Tag: The War on Marijuana

SMART Bill Reintroduced in Congress to Protect State Marijuana Laws

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) has reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534).

This bill prohibits state-sanctioned marijuana consumers and businesses from being prosecuted by the federal government.

By a margin of more than 6 to 1, Americans say that individual states should be able to make their own laws governing the use and sale of marijuana.

The SMART Enforcement Act acknowledges this voter sentiment while also ensuring states are operating in a safe and responsible manner.

In a prepared statement, Congresswoman DelBene says that her legislation “will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act. It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana within their own borders.”

Legislation similar to this is pending in California, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws.

As Congresswoman DelBene said, “People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.”

Click here to urge your Representatives to support this legislation.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

In Bid to Defend Marijuana Arrests, NYC Mayor de Blasio Attacks Drug Reformers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case/Flickr)

Last month, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a report noting that marijuana arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by shocking racial disparities, much as they were under his predecessors, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Stung by the criticism, de Blasio is fighting back, but his response so far has consisted of attacking DPA as “legalizers” and comparing apples to oranges.

The DPA report, Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York, noted that while marijuana possession arrests are down under de Blasio from the grotesque numbers achieved under Giuliani (more than 40,000 arrests in 2001) or Bloomberg (more than 50,000 arrests in 2011), NYPD still arrested made more than 18,000 of them last year. A whopping 86% of them were black or brown, maintaining the racial disparities so apparent in earlier administrations.

That’s “a far cry from the Mayor’s pledge to rein in NYPD’s targeting of people of color,” charged DPA New York State Director Kassandra Frederique in the report. That de Blasio had managed to bring pot arrests down to an average of only 20,000 a year during his tenure shouldn’t be portrayed as progress, argued Frederique, instead describing it as “slower injustice, but slower injustice is still injustice delivered.”

De Blasio struck back last Friday, releasing a statement that called the DPA report “misleading” and attacked DPA as “a group committed to legalization.” De Blasio’s statement emphasized that marijuana arrests had dropped significantly under his administration — something DPA never disputed — but failed to address the claim of continuing racial disparities in arrests. Instead, it merely noted that because arrests were down overall, arrests of black and brown people were down, too.

But the takeaway sentence in de Blasio’s statement inadvertently makes DPA’s case:

As a result of this new policy, arrests for marijuana possession are down 37%  — from almost 29,000 in 2013 to approximately 18,000 in 2016. This has translated into approximately 9,600 fewer arrests of Black and Latino New Yorkers for marijuana possession in 2016 as compared to 2013.

In other words, a reduction of less than 11,000 total marijuana arrests between the two years resulted in about 9,600 people of color not being arrested. De Blasio’s own data and arguments show that the city’s minorities clearly take the brunt of marijuana law enforcement, his wriggling notwithstanding.

And now, DPA is returning fire at de Blasio.

“Mayor de Blasio is not disputing the data published in our report, he is trying to spin his poor record to look as though he has made some progress,” Frederique said Friday. “In reality, New York City was the marijuana arrest capital of the world under Bloomberg and still holds that dubious title under de Blasio today. The 18,000 arrests in 2016 alone and outrageous racial disparities are a disgrace to the city and a blight on the mayor’s record. The unjust and racially-targeted arrests are devastating black and Latino communities across the city.”

Frederique also applied some political ju-jitsu to de Blasio’s “legalizer” attack.

“The mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us legalizers, is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record. Our report is based on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests,” she said. “For the record, the Drug Policy Alliance is committed to marijuana legalization to increase access for patients and end targeted policing in communities of color. And we’re not alone; nearly 60% of Americans also support legalization.”

Instead of attacking critics, the mayor should fix the problem, Frederique added.

“It’s time for the mayor to get out of the spin cycle and back to work,” she prescribed. “The mayor must end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young black and Latino New Yorkers now.”


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

DOJ Task Force Recommends Against Federal Crackdown on Marijuana

The Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, DC. (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

WASHINGTON, DC — A Department of Justice task force subcommittee on marijuana policy is not recommending any policy changes that would target state-legal marijuana programs or businesses operating in compliance with state laws, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The task force asked for continued study and dialogue on the issue. The recommendations are meant to inform ongoing policy decisions and are non-binding.

Since August 2013, Dept. of Justice policy has been not to enforce federal marijuana laws against individuals or businesses in states that are complying with state medical or adult-use marijuana laws, provided that one of eight federal priorities is not implicated.

In 2014, Congress passed an amendment to an omnibus spending bill that prevented the Dept. of Justice from spending any resources to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana laws.

This amendment was subsequently renewed, but it now stands to expire on Sept. 30 unless it is approved in a congressional conference committee or Congress fails to pass a budget.

While on the campaign trail, President Trump was asked his view on state marijuana policy reform, and he consistently said it should be a states’ rights decision.

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted effective medical marijuana laws.

Marijuana is legal and regulated for adults in eight states, and adult possession and limited home cultivation are legal in the District of Columbia.

According to an April poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, 73 percent of U.S. voters “oppose government enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

Ninety-four percent of U.S. voters support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, and 60 percent support making marijuana legal in the United States.

“The task force’s recommendations reflect the fact that the Dept. of Justice has more important priorities than harassing legitimate, taxpaying businesses,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“In states that have approved marijuana for medical or adult use, these businesses are creating jobs, generating revenue, protecting consumers, and making their communities safer,” he says.

“The vast majority of Americans want the federal government to let states determine their own marijuana policies. We hope the attorney general is paying attention and maintains the current policy of non-interference,” Murphy added.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Advocates to De Blasio: Address Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case/Flickr)

NEW YORK, NY — New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office published a statement this week disputing the findings of the Drug Policy Alliance report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York.”

The report details that marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio continue to be marked by extremely high racial disparities, as was the case under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations.

Drug Policy Alliance New York State Director Kassandra Frederique issued the following statement in response:

Mayor de Blasio is not disputing the data published in our report, he is trying to spin his poor record to look as though he has made some progress.

In reality, New York City was the marijuana arrest capital of the world under Bloomberg and still holds that dubious title under de Blasio today.

The 18,000 arrests in 2016 alone and outrageous racial disparities are a disgrace to the city and a blight on the mayor’s record.

The unjust and racially-targeted arrests are devastating Black and Latino communities across the city.

The mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us legalizers, is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record. Our report is based on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests.

For the record, the Drug Policy Alliance is committed to marijuana legalization to increase access for patients and end targeted policing in communities of color. And we’re not alone; nearly 60 percent of Americans also support legalization.

It’s time for the mayor to get out of the spin cycle and back to work. Over the past two decades, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably damaged by racially-targeted marijuana arrest policies.

The mayor must end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers now.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

80 Years Ago, FDR Signed First Federal Anti-Marijuana Law

Eighty years ago, on August 2, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed House Bill 6385: the Marihuana Tax Act into law. The Act for the first time imposed federal criminal penalties on activities specific to the possession, production, and sale of cannabis.

Congress’ decision followed the actions of 29 states, beginning with Massachusetts in 1914, that had previously passed laws criminalizing the plant over the prior decades.

It also followed years of ‘Reefer Madness,’ during which time politicians, bureaucrats (led primarily by Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director Harry Anslinger), reporters, and science editors continually proclaimed that marijuana use irreparably damaged the brain.

A 1933 editorial in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology largely summarized the sentiment of the time, “If continued, the inevitable result is insanity, which those familiar with it describe as absolutely incurable, and, without exception ending in death.”

On April 14, 1937, Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina introduced HR 6385, which sought to stamp out the recreational use of marijuana by imposing a prohibitive federal tax on all cannabis-related activities.

Members of Congress held only two hearings to debate the merits of the bill, which largely relied on the sensational testimony of Anslinger — who opined, ”This drug is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.”

Over objections from the American Medical Association, whose representatives opposed the proposed federal ban, members of the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure by voice votes.

President Franklin Roosevelt promptly signed the legislation into law and on October 1, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act officially took effect — thus setting in motion the federal prohibition that continues to this day.

Tell Congress to end 80 years of failure. Click here to urge federal leadership to support The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 in the US Senate and click here to support The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 in the US House of Representatives.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Bill to Protect State Enforcement of Marijuana Laws Introduced in Congress

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC (Wikimedia/David Maiolo)

WASHINGTON, DC — As tensions continue to grow due to the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws, including a possible forthcoming federal crackdown on the marijuana industry under anti-marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Congresswoman from Washington state has reintroduced a bill aimed at protecting states rights to regulate the substance.

Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA) reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act, H.R. 3534, on Friday.

The bill aims to protect medical patients, recreational users and businesses in states that have legalized and regulated marijuana from being prosecuted now or in the future.

“My bill will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act,” DelBene said. “It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana in their own borders.”

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized some form of marijuana. Of those, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana, while others have approved medical use of marijuana.

Despite over half of the states legalizing some form of marijuana, possession or use of the substance for any purpose remains prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act, leaving every participant in the state markets — including cancer patients — at risk of prosecution.

“People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice,” said DelBene.

States are currently unable to regulate as effectively as possible because they are hamstrung by federal preemption problems. The SMART Enforcement Act would fix this issue, says DelBene, while adhering to Obama-era U.S. Department of Justice guidance known as the Cole Memos on marijuana enforcement.

The bill recognizes the shared role states have traditionally played in policing marijuana offenses, and authorizes a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act for states that implement robust regulatory regimes to address key federal priorities such as preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, violence or use of firearms in cultivation and distribution of marijuana, and drugged driving.

DelBene’s bill would sunset all waivers after three years, allowing continued oversight and reevaluation of the success of this approach by Congress.

“According to a 2017 Quinnipiac national poll, 73 percent of Americans oppose the federal government interfering in state legal marijuana programs,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “The SMART Enforcement Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, patients, consumers and the 123,000 Americans who now have jobs dependent on the normalization of the lawful marijuana market.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Powerful Senate Committee Ties Jeff Sessions’s Hands on Medical Marijuana

Jeff Sessions speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted by voice vote to approve an amendment that would block the Department of Justice from spending any funds to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment – led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – is a striking rebuke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had personally requested that Congress eliminate the amendment and allow him to prosecute medical marijuana providers and patients.

The amendment passed with strong Republican support, a sign that Sessions is isolated politically as rumors of a crackdown on marijuana businesses abound.

“The Senate is sending a clear message to Jeff Sessions – keep your hands off states that have reformed their marijuana laws,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Today’s vote is a huge win for the marijuana reform movement, because in the face of real pressure from the Department of Justice, the Senate has opted to block Jeff Sessions from interfering with any medical marijuana law.”

The amendment still has to make the final appropriations bill, but it has been added to the final government funding bill each year since 2014. The amendment is currently in effect after being signed into law this year, despite only receiving a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The amendment – also known as Rohrabacher-Farr – has also been litigated in court with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that, while the amendment is in effect, DOJ cannot prosecute individuals who follow state law on medical marijuana.

Currently, 29 states have full medical marijuana laws.

The vote comes one day after the Department of Justice announced that the Attorney General would implement DOJ task force recommendations on a rolling basis.

It is expected that one of the task forces will develop guidance on how DOJ will deal with states that have legalized marijuana.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Key Senate Committee Votes to Renew Protections for Medical Marijuana

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC (Wikimedia/David Maiolo)

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) approved an amendment in a voice vote that would continue to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), would add a clause to the CJS budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that prevents the Department of Justice from using resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers that are in compliance with state law.

A similar amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

In 2014, Congress added a similar amendment to an omnibus spending bill that prevented the Dept. of Justice from spending any resources to target state-legal medical marijuana businesses.

This amendment was subsequently renewed, but now stands to expire.

If the CJS budget is approved in the Senate, the amendment will go to a special conference committee to reach a compromise with the House.

If no budget is approved by September 30, the previous amendment will be automatically renewed for another year.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated that he opposes marijuana being legal for any reason, and in May sent a letter to Congress urging them to vote down the amendment and allow him to resume prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted effective medical marijuana laws.

According to an April poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, 94 percent of U.S. voters support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes. The same poll showed 73 percent of U.S. voters “oppose government enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

“More than half the states have taken a stand and said they want their seriously ill residents to have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana, and today the Senate Appropriations Committee listened,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement issued following the vote. “What was expected to be a very successful vote passed on an overwhelming voice vote, while opposition to the Leahy amendment was literally a whimper. That sound we heard in the Senate was the sound of a waving white flag as the federal war on medical marijuana patients and providers winds down.”

“We strongly urge the rest of Congress to do the right thing and include this amendment in the final budget. Even if you are one of the few people who don’t support medical marijuana, states should still have the right to help their most vulnerable residents. They should not have to worry about the Department of Justice interfering,” Murphy added.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

US Senate Committee Expected to Vote Thursday on Medical Marijuana

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will have to decide: Will they protect our nation’s over 2 million lawful medical marijuana patients or subject them to the wrath of Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

The amendment they will be debating, known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, simply prevents the United States Department of Justice from spending any of our tax dollars enforcing federal marijuana prohibition against the 30 states which have now, or are in the process of, implementing a medical cannabis system.

Tell your Senators to protect patients by supporting the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment

There is NO moral reason to punish qualified patients and veterans from accessing marijuana for its therapeutic effects. Recently released data has revealed that the enactment of medical cannabis access is associated with lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality, and does not negatively impact workplace safety, teen use rates, or motor vehicle safety.

Yet, in a letter to members of Congress on May 1, Sessions demanded the end of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, citing: “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

This is the delusional leadership we have coming out of the Justice Department. A man who equates those suffering from PTSD, cancer, AIDS, and other dire medical conditions to members of violent drug cartels.

We cannot allow Jeff Sessions to be the only one communicating with Congress.

SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR SENATORS NOW.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York City: Minorities Still Arrested Disproportionately for Marijuana Violations

NEW YORK, NY — Eighty-seven percent of low level marijuana arrestees in New York City are either African Americans or Latinos, according to an analysis compiled by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and published this week by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Researchers reported that New York City police officers made more than 60,000 arrests for minor marijuana violations during the first three years of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration (2014-2016) – even though he had previously called the practice “unjust and wrong.”

Of those arrested during this period, 49 percent were black, 38 percent were Latino, nine percent were white, and four percent were classified as either Asian or ‘other.’

Similar racial disparities among low level marijuana arrests existed under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.

Authors concluded, “In 2016, and for the last 30 years, the NYPD has had two very different patterns or systems of enforcement by race and ethnicity for the criminal offense of possessing small amounts of marijuana – separate, unequal, and unjust.”

Recent reviews of marijuana possession arrest data from New JerseyMaryland, and Virginia have identified similar trends. A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.

Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is ‘open to public view’ as an arrestable offense.

Full text of the report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,” is available online.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.