"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Medical Marijuana

I may surprise some by my support of medical marijuana being legalized in Maryland.  I have blogged before on the topic and I do not support legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  Although legalization for such a use is tempting from state revenue and economic development perspectives, we have enough issues to deal with related to alcohol and illegal, as well as, over prescribed drugs.  

As for medical marijuana, it has a place in the treatment of many illnesses; most significantly, a derivative being used most effectively in epileptic children.  The results are amazing with the dramatic reduction in seizures.  These children are now leading a somewhat normal life as a result.  

When my son-in-law was going through his cancer treatments last year and if medical marijuana would have been an option for him, I certainly would have wanted him to have it.  I look at it as another tool in the toolbox, but it has to be appropriately regulated and that appears to be the case in Maryland.  First, there is a Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and it is led by Hannah Byron, one of my Leadership Maryland classmates.  From my perspective, the commission is in very good hands.  Hannah has served in a number of leadership roles in Maryland government and has done so very well.  

Secondly, not just anyone will be able to put up a growing or a dispensing facility in Maryland; there are regulations that are in the comment period until the end of next month. Maryland has gone to school on other states, if you will, that have already approved medical marijuana.  They know what works and what doesn't work.  The fees to grow marijuana, again in a highly regulated and controlled environment, are $125,000 every two years and $40,000 to have a dispensary.  

Growers will not be acquiring a field somewhere in western Maryland or on the Eastern Shore to grow marijuana.  To see for myself, I visited a medical marijuana production facility two weeks ago in another state.  The operation was first rate with extensive security, so much so, it would put most banks to shame.  I saw the various stages of growing, the harvesting process and the production of medical marijuana in its various forms.  I also visited their very impressive vault where it was stored and was subjected to the standard pat down procedure upon the conclusion of my visit.  

One also has to take into the consideration the economic development aspects of medical marijuana.  Not only the fees, but the many good paying jobs that are created, the substantial taxes and fees that are generated, the additional businesses that are created as a result of the production facility and the list goes on.  

After the tour, I attended part of a symposium on medical marijuana held by that state's Pharmacy Association.  Many pharmacists and physicians were in attendance and the legalization of medical marijuana appears to have been embraced by both groups.  

Medical marijuana will be a reality in Maryland in the very near future and so far, from what I have seen, it is being well handled by all who are involved.

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