By Van Smith
Baltimore, Jan. 11, 2019
Five cannabis-related bills are in play in Annapolis as the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session gets underway this week. Three seek to expand the medical-pot industry that has sprung up under the aegis of the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannibis Commission (the MCC), one wants to give the industry some tax write-offs, and one would prohibit legal-weed products from correctional settings, including home detention.
Moving fast, compared to the other five, is Senate Bill 9, the tax-change bill whose chief sponsor is Frederick County state Sen. Ron Young (D-3rd District), who pre-filed it last summer. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has scheduled a hearing for it at 10:30am on Jan. 17. Should it pass, according to the bill text, cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries and testing labs in Maryland would be allowed to write off ordinary business expenses, including reasonable salaries or other compensation, when calculating their Maryland adjusted gross income.
Three bills pre-filed last November by Balitmore City state Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-45th District), one of Maryland’s staunchest medical-pot advocates, would broaden the MCC’s program in significant ways. House Bill 17 would allow dispensaries to serve food containing medical cannabis to qualifying patients or caregivers. House Bill 18 would allow board-licensed physical therapists, psychologists, and physician assistants to certify MCC patients, and add to the MCC’s membership representatives of those professions. House Bill 33 would add opioid use disorder to the list of medical condtions for which the MCC is encouraged to approve applications for the program. All three of Glenn’s bills await action by the House Health and Government Operations Committee.
Senate Bill 86, sponsored and pre-filed last November by Washington County state Sen. Andrew Serafini (R-2nd District), has been assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. It would allow for criminal prosecution of those possessing medical cannibis at a local correctional facility and of offenders possessing it while on home detention.
If and when these bills move forward, and if and when I learn more about them, I’ll revisit them in more detail. Now, back to cooking and cleaning …