By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 28 2003 1:00 AM ET
The Maryland senate on Wednesday approved a bill 29-17 that would reduce penalties for people with serious illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, who use marijuana to ease the symptoms of their conditions, the Baltimore Sun reports. The state house passed the bill two weeks ago. The bill would set of fine of $100 for users of marijuana for medical necessity, reducing the penalty from a fine of $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year for marijuana use. Supporters of the bill had hoped to entirely decriminalize medical marijuana use, but opted for the reduced penalties when the original measure faced stiff opposition in the assembly. The bill now goes to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who is reported to be "leaning toward signing" the measure, the Sun reports. If the law is approved, Maryland will be the ninth state to have laws permitting medical marijuana use. The eight others are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. However, Maryland's law would be unique in that it only reduces penalties for medical marijuana users rather than legalizing use of the drug.