Even better than the real thing? Not in Maryland.
Maryland’s medical cannabis bill has a clause within it that criminalizes synthetic cannabis, otherwise known as “incense” or “spice,” while allowing medical cannabis to be researched academically and prescribed to patients by a doctor or a nurse.
The measure, part of a move to stem public outcry over synthetics, is aimed to lure in more legislator’s votes for the medical cannabis bill from politicians who would not normally support cannabis reform.
“The big distinction is that it (cannabis) is not causing psychosis ,” GOP Senator David Brinkly told the Fredrick News Post.
The augment against synthetics is that consumers never know what they are digesting, since chemical derivatives in synthetics are constantly altered to stay legal.
Meanwhile, cannabis is a completely organic substance.
“One is a weed, and the other is fabricated… The fabrication is not at all controlled. It just runs rampant. They just keep devising one thing after another. That, I think, is very dangerous,” said Delegate Galen Clagett representing District 3A.
Some lawmakers still remain skeptical.
“The hypocrisy of it is overwhelming,” GOP Delegate Micheal Hough of District 3B said. “What kind of message are we as leaders of the state and lawmakers sending to the young people?”
Currently in Maryland, cannabis possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
While Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, supports the medical cannabis bill, other Maryland politicians without any medical experience remain skeptical.
“What happens is that the high becomes mundane to them after a while, and they move on to a better high,” Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said. “It’s just a shame that there’s a movement afoot to legalize it.”
The bill recently got a major boost, when Governor Martin O’Malley said he would not veto the current medical cannabis bill if it ever reached his desk.