Maryland and medical marijuana

File photo: Just when you thought Maryland had settled its medical-marijuana debate, issues over local control have sparked more friction. (David McNew/Getty Images)

CUMBERLAND — A bill that would allow dentists, nurses, midwives and podiatrists to prescribe medical marijuana has passed the Maryland House of Delegates.

Maryland became the 19th state to legalize medical cannabis in 2013. When the law was passed, it stated only physicians could prescribe the drug. The new bill will expand the scope of medical professionals eligible to prescribe medical cannabis.

The House voted 110-21 to extend it to the other types of health care providers.

WTOP, based in Washington, D.C., spoke to Del. Erek Barron, D-Prince George’s, who said the idea makes sense.

“These additional practice groups are trusted and in a position to make that call for their patients,” Barron said.

Requiring the approval of both General Assembly branches, the Senate version of the bill must also pass for the measure to become law. Barron said he expects the measure will be approved by the Senate.  

Under the bill, those care providers would be required to have an active, unrestricted license to practice, be in good standing with their respective boards, and have a state controlled dangerous substances registration.

Maryland delegate and emergency department physician Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, has championed much of the medical marijuana legislation since the debate began in 2012. He has also sponsored the latest bill to expand the scope of professionals prescribing the medication.

Maryland opened up registration in the fall for doctors who wished to prescribe medical marijuana. Since then, only 85 physicians have registered to certify patients for the drug.

The commission overseeing the rollout of Maryland's medical cannabis industry is now saying the program will most likely not be ready until 2017.

Greg Larry is a reporter at Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 301-876-5329, email and follow him on Twitter.

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Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email and follow him on Twitter @greglarryctn.