iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Maryland Governor Wes Moore has appointed an Indian American biologist to the nine-member advisory council member of the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council under the Department of Health. The appointments were made as Maryland joins a number of states legalizing adult-use cannabis.
Dr. Madhumi Mitra, a professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, is one of the nine appointees. She holds a doctorate in botany from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor’s from Presidency College and a Master’s from the University College of Science and Technology, Calcutta.
Mitra also belongs to an elite group of scientists, healthcare professionals, attorneys, and entrepreneurs to earn the first master’s degree in medical cannabis science in the nation in 2021. The program was at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore. She played a pivotal role as the team leader in the development of an educational app for staff and patients in collaboration with a Maryland medical dispensary. Her various research interests include the nutritional potential of medicinal plants such as hemp.
Mitra said that cannabis use by adults is largely uncharted territory, and she hoped to work with the council members to foster a safe and responsible cannabis landscape that benefits Maryland’s communities and protects its youth from potential harm. “I feel that responsible cannabis use and safeguarding youth must remain at the forefront of any cannabis legalization effort,” she said.
Established by the General Assembly in 2022 through the passage of House Bill 837, the Advisory Council will study and identify recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on the public health impacts of cannabis legalization and strategies to mitigate youth access, misuse, and addiction to cannabis. Advisory Council members are not subject to Senate confirmation and serve four-year terms.
“I am grateful to these leaders, experts, and public servants for agreeing to serve on this critically important council,” said Gov. Moore. “As Maryland joins a growing number of states in establishing an adult-use cannabis market, we must ensure we have the right laws, policies, and strategies in place to safeguard public health, promote safe and responsible use, and prevent underage consumption, drugged driving, and misuse of cannabis products.”
Mitra said that the council will work closely with the Governor and the Maryland Department of Health to mitigate potential risks and safeguard public health. She added that the team is already looking into ways to address one of their biggest challenges which will be detecting cannabis impairment.
The council will also be working on creating policies for safety standards, educating the public on potential risks, and preventing underage usage. “The state needs to invest in drug recognition experts or DREs. Some police officers undergo specialized training to become DREs. They’re trained to identify drug impairment including cannabis,” Dr Mitra said.
Advisory Council members:
Dr. Madhumi Mitra, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Dorothy Lennig, Incoming Director, Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services
Mathew Swinburne, Associate Director, The Network for Public Health Eastern Region, University of Maryland Francis Carey King School of Law
Dr. Deondra D. Asike, M.D., Clinical Associate, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Dr. Leigh Vinocur, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Founder, Ananda Medical Practice
Dr. Leah Sera, PharmD., Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
Dr. David A. Gorelick, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Jocelyn Bratton-Payne, MSW, Director of Substance Use Disorder Programs, New Hope Treatment Center
Karrissa Miller, partner at Pinnacle CT, LLC, a Maryland independent testing laboratory, and founding partner at US Cannalytics