Stigma still exists despite legalized medical pot in Maryland

Medicinal marijuana is *legal* in Maryland.

BETHESDA, MD. (WUSA9) - It has been almost one week since medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Maryland. 

Many of the businesses cannot keep up with the demand. 

They’re running out of some forms of pot. 

Some dispensaries in the state got off to a rough start with computer failures, long lines, and a short supply.

RELATED: Md. church fighting medical marijuana dispensary next door

However, Rise Maryland in Bethesda said it got off to a good start and learned from challenges.

A few people told WUSA9 on Wednesday they did not want to talk about using medical marijuana because of the stigma that still exists, but that was not everybody’s story.

“I’ve been waiting for years and now it’s there. I’m sorry. I get a little moved,” Paul Guenette said “It’s fabulous. It’s a good thing.” 

Guenette is battling prostate and tongue cancer which can be difficult to deal with at times.

“I’ve got to go through an eight-week radiation for five days a week. Chemo one day a week,” Guenette explained.

The 65-year-old said medical marijuana will help with his illnesses.

“Pain, relaxation, sleep. It’s big. It’s big,” Guenette said.

It was a big deal for Guenette and so many others battling illnesses in Maryland.

For some patients, there is still shame when it comes to pot even if it is medical.

“If I was working and not a retired guy, I’d be doing the same thing. I wouldn’t dare be seen on camera talking about anything with marijuana man,” Leon Larry said. “I think a lot of people would think that because you’re smoking, you’re not smoking to alleviate your medical condition. You’re just smoking because you want to get high.”

James Gale, store manager at Rise Maryland, said, “I did anticipate this would be murky for some people and unfamiliar.”

Gale recognized that Maryland is no California or Colorado where marijuana is becoming more normalized.

“It’s very new. We’re very aware of that and that’s where the education comes into play,” Gale told WUSA9.

If you’re interested in getting medical marijuana, you can’t just walk inside. 

There are three things you have to do. 

First, be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions. 

Then, a doctor must recommend medical marijuana. 

Lastly, register with the state to get a card. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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