While Maryland lawmakers approve a measure to legalize marijuana next year, education on the plant continues.
The House Cannabis Legalization Working Group held a two-hour virtual meeting on Wednesday with presentations summarizing cannabis, its health and safety implications, and proposed guidelines for implementation.
Doctors Patricia Frye and Susan Weiss and Taylor Kasky of the state’s Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission said data collection is one of the best ways to assess cannabis legalization.
Del. Robin Grammer (R-Baltimore County) asked what data should be collected.
“It’s very complicated. It’s about so much more than the data you need,” said Kasky, director of political and government affairs for the commission.
She said it was easier to test disabled drivers, but a person would need a blood draw to determine levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. She said that some states recently did saliva tests, “which are faster and less invasive than drawing blood.”
Another challenge remains that Maryland is among a dozen other states and Washington, DC where medicinal cannabis is legal and certain products are sold in pharmacies.
Nearly two dozen states allow both medical and recreational use, so the laws are different in each jurisdiction. In addition, marijuana remains illegal by the federal government and some companies operate purely as a cash business.
Frye, who founded Takoma Park Integrative Care, said their patients mostly consume cannabis products orally. Such products include gums, sprays, and lozenges.
Some of their data this year shows that anxiety is the number one reason cited by patients seeking treatment, followed by pain relief.
In terms of gender, their business saw more male patients ages 25 to 55, but more female patients ages 55 and older more common in women than men. “
Frye said some reasons patients seek cannabis are depression, migraines, and constipation. Side effects include dry mouth, drop in blood pressure, and reduced reaction time.
“Individuals react differently to each drug,” she said. “There is no one size fits all.”
The speakers all agreed that some form of guidance must take place under the state legislature.
“Regulations are important and can help mitigate some of the potential harm,” said Weiss, director of extramural research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It is important that adult legalization is in place and that there are also strong public health campaigns when the laws change.”
The working group is planning another meeting on October 27th at 10 am.
Click here to view Wednesday’s presentation.
William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer
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