America: the intricacies of Medical Marijuana laws


It would seem that medical marijuana can be either legal or illegal, one of the two. The federal structure of the United States allows us to observe all shades of permissibility and prohibition of medical cannabis. It’s hard not to get confused by such a plethora of nuances – for example, cannabis treatment is legal in a particular state, while medical marijuana prescriptions written in other states are not. Also, perceptions vary between states as to which ailments and disorders it is permissible to prescribe cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

For those wishing to understand the positions of American law on the issue of medical cannabis, see the fact sheet below. For starters, America is made up of 50 states. 34 of them have amended laws related to medical cannabis treatment, or cultivation, or possession of small amounts for personal use. As of 2010, the population of the more cannabis-tolerant states represents about two-thirds of the entire U.S. population.

Now let’s look at U.S. medical marijuana policy in detail.

Legalization of medical cannabis

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis in their territories. These 23 states are home to about 41% of the U.S. population (125 million people).

Medical Marijuana

Not all properties of medical marijuana are recognized

● In Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and Vermont, glaucoma is not considered a reason to use medical cannabis, although the properties of cannabinoids (particularly CBD) to reduce intraocular pressure have been studied by scientists and are not questioned.

● Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington do not consider marijuana to be a treatment for nausea, although the plant’s antiemetic effects were one of the first reasons for the use of cannabis in modern medical practice;

● Laws in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington also declare medical marijuana ineffective against pain syndromes – no matter what ails you, there’s no prescription for it here. As a reminder, the analgesic properties of cannabis have been known to humans since ancient times.

But post-traumatic stress disorder, a neurotic illness that affects many war veterans, has been officially added to the list of conditions treated by medical cannabis in states such as California, Delaware, Maine, Michigan and Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon. THC affects the centers of the brain associated with storing memories and has shown to be effective against many mental disorders that are difficult to treat with antipsychotic drugs (such as depression and panic attacks).

Where medical marijuana grove is legal

Cultivation remains illegal, and medical cannabis is only allowed to be purchased at official dispensaries. However, 12 states allow people with appropriate diagnoses to buy cannabis seeds and grow medical marijuana at home: Alaska, California, Colorado and Hawaii, Maine, Michigan and Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and New Island, Vermont and Washington.

In Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada, a person in need of treatment is required to live within 25 miles of a dispensary so that home grows are not a punishable offense.

Amounts authorized for possession

It is illegal to possess marijuana. So how to treat it?

● Of the 23 states that have authorized medical marijuana, 13 allow possession of ready-to-drink weed up to 28g – these are California, and Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington;

● Up to 56 g of cannabis is legal to possess in Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, and the District of Columbia in Washington.

Medical cannabis user registration

Did the preceding paragraph delight the reader with American humanitarianism? Don’t be too quick to sing dithyrambs to the U.S. government. The same states of Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Montana, New Hampshire and Vermont, New Mexico, New Jersey and the District of Columbia mandate that police arrest any grandmother with terminal cancer caught smoking medical cannabis without a license. In these states, the patient is required to go through a regulated registration process before smoking, be respectful ta be careful.

In Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Hawaii, a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana is enough to have no fear of being caught buying it from any source. In Delaware, it’s mandatory to carry a prescription with you at all times – and wisely so, since it’s impossible to know in advance where you’re going to get high.

States with strict restrictions

Clarifications to the medical marijuana law in some of the states that have authorized its use unwittingly lead one to conclude that local governments have followed the general trend rather than truly showing tolerance for the medical cannabis user.

● Specifically, Minnesota allows only cannabinoids synthesized from marijuana for medical use;

● In the agricultural states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin, only high-CBD, low-THC cannabis derivatives are authorized for therapeutic use;

● In Virginia, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Louisiana, the law has outsmarted basic logic: the treating physician decides whether to prescribe cannabis on a case-by-case basis, but has no authority to make a positive decision. However, absurd laws are not new in the American jurisdiction, which is a patchwork of disparate provinces, each of which considers itself the center of the state.

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