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Where Does the Law Stand on Medicinal Marijuana?

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Where Does the Law Stand on Medicinal Marijuana?

Medical marijuana according to the law

Image reference: Medical marijuana is no different from standard cannabis so its use and cultivation is regulated by certain provincial and federal marijuana laws.


Laws Pertaining to Medical Marijuana


When we say ‘medical marijuana’ we are referring to the use, procurement and the cultivation of this drug for medicinal purposes. Also known as medical cannabis, the drug is ideal for the terminally ill since it is capable of alleviating chronic pain and other symptoms that come with long term diseases. This includes AIDs, cancer, glaucoma and other conditions.


Medical cannabis is often deemed as an alternative form of treatment that can not only relieve painful symptoms, but do so without harmful side effects. It is no different from standard cannabis so its use and cultivation is regulated by certain state and federal laws.


According to the Controlled Substances Act, it is a Schedule 1 drug which means 2 things:

  1. It can be abused by certain parties.
  2. Medical treatment using medicinal cannabis in the US is regulated


Because of this there are some questions regarding the use of medical marijuana and its legal use. On one side of the debate we have politicians who would like to see the end of it so that they can control it. On the other hand, we have health advocates who would like to legalize the use of this miracle drug since it is a valid and useful treatment for a number of complex conditions.


Laws pertaining to Medical Marijuana


The marijuana laws around medical cannabis are constantly changing and they differ across different geographical locations. State and federal laws state that it is illegal to grow, plant or sell the plant but a number of states are now legalizing this for medical purposes. In other words, patients who use the drug within the bounds of the law are not held liable if they can provide valid documentation.


California was the first state to legalize the use of the drug as a medical aid back in 1996 with Proposition 215. Also known as the Compassionate Use Act, the law allows patients in the state to acquire, cultivate and use the drug for medicinal purposes as per a doctor’s recommendation.


This is not surprising. Medical cannabis is a safe and effective way to stimulate the appetite and relive pain that can be persistent in some conditions. Unlike traditional medication, it is completely non-invasive, cost effective and does not react adversely to prescription drugs.


Even if they know about these benefits, many people refrain from buying the drug because they are unsure of its legality. The good news is that more and more states are joining California to ensure patients who cannot find relief from their pain through prescription drugs are not deprived. Take Massachusetts for example. As of 2012, medical cannabis is recognized as a legal medical aid and it can be used recreationally in small amounts as well.


However, as mentioned before, you need to have authorization documents on hand with you if you plan on using this drug for medicinal reasons. Keep it in your purse, wallet or on you at all times when you go out or whenever you need to smoke it outside. If you are stopped by an officer of the law for smoking or using the drug, you can show them the certification that proves you are legally allowed to.


Make sure to have a card made for yourself as well as your caregivers so that neither of you has an issue with the law. You need to go through the registration process before you are allowed a card and you will not be able to get it unless you have a recommendation from a licensed doctor. Discuss the use of medical marijuana with your physician to get the process started and see the last of your pain.


State vs. Federal Laws


According to federal laws, marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance as mentioned before but this changed in 2009 under the Obama administration. During this time, a memo was sent from the White House to federal prosecutors discouraging them from prosecuting people who wish to sell the drug for patients who need it.


All in all, states that have laws pertaining to the use and distribution of medical marijuana have patient registries to regulate its use. This allows users some level of protection against potential arrests in case they are apprehended by officers. If they are registered, they will not face any legal issues.


The main policy questions regarding the drug are how to regulate its recommendation, dispensation and registration of people who have conditions that cannot be cured by any other means. The good news is that more and more states have realized the importance of this medicinal miracle and are making efforts in the hopes of gaining approval.


The more states jump on this bandwagon, the faster medical cannabis can be approved country wide. Dispensaries of medical cannabis or ‘caregivers’ may limit themselves to certain plants or the products they sell to each patient. However, this issue can be resolved on a local level.


As a patient who uses medical marijuana, you have the right as a defendant to argue medical necessity or compliance with your state’s law in case you are called to court. If you provide the documents and proof that you are well within your rights to use the medicinal drug, you will not be held liable. There are a number of states that have an implied affirmative defence in this case or in case patients are arrested for possession of marijuana.


Medical cannabis has alleviated more aches, pains and complex symptoms than Big Pharma and its use is just gaining popularity because of the benefits it offers. Whether you need it to ease chronic pain, headaches, induce a calm state of mind and generally improve your quality of life, you should consider signing up as a registered user in your state’s local registry as soon as possible.


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