Md. bill to prohibit medical marijuana in jails awaits approval

ANNAPOLIS — Proposed legislation to prohibit medical marijuana at local jails was still awaiting committee approvals Tuesday, with less than a week left in this year’s Maryland General Assembly session.

Local lawmakers sponsored a bill at the request of Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore. He told legislators that two patients enrolled in Maryland’s new medical cannabis program have been incarcerated in the county detention center and wanted to have the drug while jailed.

The sheriff’s office would violate federal law by holding or distributing the drug, he said. He sought protection in the law from potential lawsuits over making it available.

An attorney for one of the inmates already had threatened a lawsuit, he said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. encouraged Finance Committee Chairman Thomas “Mac” Middleton, R-Charles, to amend the bill to apply statewide. Medical cannabis already is prohibited in state-run prisons.

The Senate passed its version of the bill on March 12. The bill was presented to the House Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees last week.

Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, presented the bill, but said Tuesday he was unsure why it hasn’t yet been voted out of committee.

“The only thing I’m hearing is that it’s probably gonna move and be passed,” said Del. William J. Wivell, R-Washington, who sponsored a House version. “I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be. I think it was just an oversight from day one when medical marijuana was passed. I don’t think anyone ever intended for (marijuana) to be within the confines of a prison.”

“The sheriff did tell us there are alternatives to that when you’re confined or detained within a prison,” he added. “They certainly are available

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