Medical marijuana bill advances in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A measure to allow medical marijuana in Maryland has moved forward in the House of Delegates.

The House gave the bill preliminary approval with little discussion on Saturday. A vote is expected next week.

The legislation would create a commission to oversee a medical marijuana program in the state at academic research centers.

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua Sharfstein told lawmakers earlier this month he supports the bill. That marks a change for Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration, which opposed the measure last year.

Sharfstein is supporting the measure this year with changes that make it clear the governor can suspend the program if there is a reasonable chance of federal prosecution for state employees.

Delegate Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, is sponsoring the measure.