By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 08 2003 12:00 AM ET
President Bush, members of the Administration, and other prominent Republicans are reported to be heavily pressuring Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich to veto a recently approved bill that lowers penalties for seriously ill patients who use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their illnesses, the Baltimore Sun reports. Ehrlich, also a Republican, is reportedly leaning toward signing the measure. The bill would set a fine of up to $100 for those using marijuana for medical necessity, considerably lower than the $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison for all other instances of marijuana use or possession.
"I think most people can discern a clear difference between legalizing substances that wreck lives as opposed to a life situation where someone is doing something because of severe pain," Ehrlich said.
But John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a speech in Baltimore that the state's assembly had been "conned" by medical marijuana proponents into supporting the bill. He also said there were other, better alternatives to marijuana for patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other ailments who use the drug to treat nausea and other symptoms of their illnesses. "We don't use smoked weeds," he said.
Eight other states--Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington--already have medical marijuana laws. The Maryland law would be unique in that it only lowers penalties for medical marijuana use and doesn't entirely legalize use of the drug.