Md. Senate passes medical marijuana legislation

The Senate passed legislation Thursday that would give Marylanders with serious medical conditions access to marijuana if it is recommended by a specially licensed physician.

As amended in the Senate, the bill is significantly different from the version passed by the House. The Senate bill, which passed 45-1, takes a much less restrictive approach to the number of licenses for growers and distributors of marijuana, which the House had restricted to 10.

The Senate version has no limit on the number of growers and calls for a minimum of 94 distributors to be spread across the state. The Senate, motivated by concerns of a monopoly with the House approach, separated the growers from the distributors.

The legislation is likely to go to a conference committee to work out differences between the two versions. The only no vote in the Senate came from Sen. Bryan Simonaire, an Anne Arundel County Republican.

Both versions of the legislation would replace a system adopted last year that restricted marijuana programs for academic medical centers. None of the state's medical centers agreed to participate, preventing patients from getting access to the drug.

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