As momentum builds for Maryland lawmakers to approve a measure legalizing marijuana next year, education on the plant continues.

The House Cannabis Legalization work group held a two-hour virtual meeting Wednesday with presentations summarizing cannabis, its health and safety impacts and proposed policies to implement.

Medical doctors Patricia Frye and Susan Weiss and Taylor Kasky with the state’s Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission said data collection represents one of the best ways to assess legalizing cannabis.

Del. Robin Grammer (R-Baltimore County) asked what data should be collected.

“It’s very complicated. It’s so much more than what data do you need,” said Kasky, director of policy and government affairs for the commission.

She said it’s easier to test impaired drivers, but a person would need blood drawn to assess levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. She said saliva tests have recently been recently done in some state “that’s more quickly and less invasive than drawing blood.”

Another challenge remains that Maryland is among a dozen of other states and Washington, D.C., where medical cannabis is legal, with certain products sold at dispensaries.

Nearly two dozen states allow both medical and recreational use, so laws differentiate in each jurisdiction. In addition, marijuana remains illegal by the federal government and with some businesses strictly operating as a cash business.

Frye, who founded Takoma Park Integrative Care, said her patients mainly use cannabis products orally. Such products include gummies, sprays and lozenges.

Some of her data this year shows anxiety is the top reason given by patients seeking treatment, followed by pain relief.

In terms of gender, her business saw more male patients between the ages of 25 to 55, but more female patients ages 55 and older, which she said “may be a reflection of autoimmune disease which I see a lot of and it is definitely more prevalent in women than in men.”

Frye said some reasons patients seek cannabis include depression, migraines and constipation. The adverse effects include dry mouth, decrease in blood pressure and impaired reaction time.

“Individuals respond to each medication differently,” she said. “There’s no one-size-fits-all.”

The presenters all agreed some form of guidance among state lawmakers must be done.

“Regulations matter and they can help mitigate some of the potential harms,” said Weiss, director of division of extramural research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s important that adult use legalization goes into effect that there’s also strong, public health campaigns in place when the laws change.”

The work group plans to hold another session at 10 a.m. on Oct. 27.

Click here to view Wednesday’s presentation.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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