Cumberland Times-News

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January 24, 2013

Edwards’ bill would increase speed limit on Interstate 68

CUMBERLAND — Recently filed legislation by Sen. George Edwards could free drivers to push the pedal a little closer to the metal while driving on Interstate 68.

The bill sponsored by Edwards would allow the speed limit on the interstate in Maryland to be increased from a maximum of 65 mph to 70 mph.

It’s the first time Edwards has introduced the speed limit bill, staff at his office said. Edwards wants to allow the speed limit to be raised to 70 by transportation officials. At the West Virginia border, the interstate speed limit increases to 70, where it continues through the rest of its length in that state.

Other legislation filed in the General Assembly this week would renew an attempt to legalize medical marijuana, while a separate bill would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 302 was introduced by Delegate Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore City and a number of co-sponsors. A similar bill has been introduced for several years. According to the bill, regulation of the drug would be through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Last year, a panel appointed by state health officials came up with competing ideas that helped weaken chances for passage.

One of the group’s proposals emphasized continued study of marijuana and to only make the drug available through medical research institutions, like university hospitals.

Access to the drug would be limited to test subjects and not to the general population of those suffering illness or pain that might respond to marijuana. There would be strict oversight of the research programs by the state.

Getting the drug to a wide range of patients would have been the goal of the second proposal. The state would license or register academic institutions, growers and distributors. It would encourage access by patients throughout the state.

Medical marijuana is used to treat many forms of illness and pain including HIV/AIDS, seizures, severe nausea from cancer and other treatments, and spasms, among others.

The bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana was filed by Sen. Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County. Senate Bill 297 would make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $100.

The current law punishes possession of less than 10 grams of the drug as a criminal offense including a fine of up to $500, along with possible jail time.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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