Maryland NORML will hold a rally to support medical cannabis at 5:30pm on Monday, November 2 in Annapolis, Md. The rally will take place on the public sidewalks in front of the Arundel Center at 44 Calvert Street. Activists are encouraged to keep moving to avoid blocking pedestrian traffic. The organization is planning the demonstration to allow residents to voice their support for medical cannabis.
Rally participants may testify before the Anne Arundel County Council by signing up at 6:30pm. The county council meeting begins at 7pm.
Potential patients participated in a rally prior to the previous county council meeting on October 19. Barry Considine, who suffers from severe arthritis, attended the rally in his wheelchair. During the rally Considine said, “It’s time to get the sick and dying off the battlefield of the drug war.”
Dr. William Tham, a pain management physician, gave expert testimony during the previous hearing. He explained that states with medical marijuana have been documented to have 25 percent fewer prescription opioid overdose deaths. Maryland established a Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force this year to combat heroin overdoses. Councilman Chris Trumbauer said, “Anne Arundel County is in the middle of a heroin epidemic.”
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has released its regulations and the program should be operational in 2016. The state has legalized medical cannabis, but each county may pass their individual zoning restrictions. Anne Arundel was the only county in Maryland whose executive initially proposed an absolute ban on any cannabis facility.
After the last hearing Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh re-stated his previous opposition to medical marijuana, referring to cities with dispensaries as “a nightmare”. Schuh admitted to traveling to Colorado, Jamaica and Amsterdam.
Schuh has invested in sports bars which sell alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control estimates six Americans die each day from alcohol poisoning. No person in human history has ever died as a result of marijuana toxicity.
Councilman Trumbauer sponsored bill number 97-15 which would restrict dispensaries, processing centers and farms to 1,000 feet from a dwelling, residentially zoned property or school. The bill would also limit facilities from being within 2,500 feet from one another.
The competing bill – number 96-15 – would add additional restrictions. Trumbauer said the “bill is still so restrictive that I fear no business owners would apply”.
Patients in need of treatment want more access to cannabis and fewer restrictions. “It should be as close as we can make it. It should be as available as we can make it,” said Considine during the October 19 hearing.
The overwhelming majority of Maryland residents support medical cannabis. A 2014 Goucher College poll found that, “Ninety percent of Marylanders support the use of marijuana for medical purposes, if prescribed by a doctor.”