CAMBRIDGE — Did you know that at the end of the 19th century that cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana) was widely used as a medicine? And that in 1911, the first state to regulate cannabis was Massachusetts; the use of marijuana there was banned in a fervor of prohibitionist actions that also restricted prostitution, horserace gambling, boxing, liquor, and other adult amusements? And that though other states fell in line prohibiting the use of marijuana, the American Medical Association fought against laws banning medical use of marijuana all along, including opposing the “Marihuana Tax Act” in 1937?
Now, in the 21st century things are coming full circle. Marijuana is emerging once again as a plant with a variety of desirable medical uses, and even being approved for “recreational” use. Ironically, Massachusetts is one of these pioneering states; the list also includes California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Nevada. Plainly, the stimulant known as “pot,” and dozens of other pet names, is losing its “Reefer Madness” cachet and slowly coming into the mainstream.
Maryland is one state that has approved the use of cannabis for medical purposes (and decriminalized possession of small quantities used for recreation). Medical use in the state was first approved in 2014, and is now finally getting its legs as an emerging industry.
To spread the word and dispel unfounded rumors about what is what, the Cannabis Council recently presented a public meeting on the state of medical marijuana in Maryland, at the Eastern Shore Innovation Center on Bucktown Road.
The meeting informed the small crowd present of the history of medical marijuana, the criminalization of the drug following the cessation of Prohibition, and the current state of the new business of medical cannabis in Maryland. It was an interesting glimpse into what will obviously become a major industry, not only in this state but country-wide.
In regards of what medical marijuana might be used to treat, each state sets its own guidelines. For the state of Maryland, the drug may be used as a treatment for patients in hospice receiving palliative care, or a patient suffering a “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces cachexia, anorexia, or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe or persistent muscle spasms.”
Doctors will not “prescribe” marijuana. Instead, a doctor registered with the state commission will write a certification stating that the patient has a condition that can be treated with cannabis. The patient then will take that certification to a licensed dispensary and consult with a trained dispensary agent who will recommend a particular strain of marijuana or extract and a particular dosage known to be effective for the patient’s condition. Follow-up will be necessary with the patient’s doctor, and with the dispensary.
Concerning local availability, the Cannabis Council informed the attendees that there will be a dispensary in Dorchester County, most likely in the City of Cambridge (Peninsula Alternative Health LLC), and there has already been approved a grower operation in Dorchester County (Doctors Orders Maryland LLC), and a processing facility in Cambridge.
The portal for information regarding certification and registration of patients is the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, at mmcc.maryland.gov. The web site is quick to point out that “medical cannabis is currently not available in the state of Maryland…” but that the industry is emerging rapidly, and availability is expected to commence by the end of this summer.