Sunday, April 16, 2023
I can hardly believe we have already reached the final week of student presentations in my Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform class. But, happily, this final week will bring a large number of presentations, and the first one slated for this final week is on medical marijuana programs around the nation. Here is how the topic is described by my student (along with background readings):
The medical marijuana space can be confusing and complex for patients, physicians, attorneys, and lawmakers due to the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana. Every state has discretion in creating its own medical marijuana program, each one subject to the rules and regulations of state lawmakers. Although thirty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medical use, it currently remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act. The discrepancy between the use of marijuana for medical purposes and its classification as a Schedule I substance, in conjunction with its federal illegality, affects the medical marijuana industry greatly. Differing state-level medical marijuana programs create numerous barriers for patients including whether they qualify for a medical card, where they can access their treatment, and the cost and method in which they can use their medicine. The federal illegality of cannabis also creates the issue of possible criminal prosecution for both patients and doctors in the United States. Additionally, marijuana’s Schedule I status has created several obstacles for researchers and doctors to further their study on the efficacy and potential benefits of cannabis.
Each of these problems only scrapes the surface of the difficulties patients and other players in the medical marijuana industry face due to the illegal status of cannabis and the disparities in medical marijuana programs. Mitigating these differences and creating more uniform state medical marijuana laws will help create an affordable, accessible, and safer medical marijuana program for all patients, but as with every area in the marijuana space, the federal illegality and Schedule I status of marijuana remains a barrier to improving the cannabis industry.
GreenHealthDocs, "Can I Use My Medical Marijuana in Another State?"
Jennie Ryan et al., "Medicinal Cannabis: Policy, Patients, and Providers"
Americans for Safe Access, "State Medical Cannabis Laws Graded by Patient Advocates in New Report"