Maryland panel still has work to do on medical pot

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland commission still has significant decisions to make on proposals to implement the state's medical marijuana law as they bumped up against a Monday deadline for submitting a draft of regulations.

The commission, which has 15 members, has been tasked with submitting the draft for review by the state health secretary and a panel of lawmakers. While the commission released an updated draft last week, the panel is still working on details and seeking feedback from the public on important aspects of the proposed regulatory framework.

Sharon Bloom, acting executive director of the commission, said the group members wanted to prepare informal drafts and release them to the public for comment, instead of starting the formal regulatory process. She said changes are still being made to the draft released last week.

"It's more important that we have good solid regulations that are not written in haste to meet a deadline, and I think everyone would agree with that," Bloom said Monday.

Bloom emphasized that members of the commission are working diligently and carefully on a new state program with a lot of important components.

"It's something brand new to the state, and we are taking our time to make sure that we're doing it properly," Bloom said.

Maryland lawmakers authorized 15 licensed marijuana growers in the state in legislation this year after a previous medical marijuana law approved in 2013 stalled. People were not able to get marijuana for medicinal purposes under that law, because it required academic medical centers to run the programs, and none stepped forward.

One of the key aspects of the draft regulations that remain to be worked out relates to how many marijuana dispensaries will be allowed. While the commission has been looking at a proposal to allow two in each state legislative district, which would add up to roughly 100, the panel has not made a final proposal.

The commission has a Sept. 23 meeting scheduled.

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