Medical cannabis legislation is quickly gaining ground for American patients one state at a time. In 2014, Maryland and Minnesota have joined twenty other states and Washington DC, as patients seek to use the substance as part of their healing regimen, according to ProCon.org.
Other states that already have medical cannabis legislation in place are Alaska (1998), Arizona (2010), California (1996), Colorado (2000), Connecticut (2012), Delaware (2011), Hawaii (2000), Illinois (2013), Maine (1999), Massachusetts (2012), Michigan (2008), Montana (2004), Nevada (2000), New Hampshire (2013), New Jersey (2010), New Mexico (2007), Oregon (1998), Rhode Island (2006), Vermont (2004), Washington (1998), and Washington DC (2010).
State-funded Center for Medicinal Cancer Research (University of California) studies reveal that medical cannabis usage can reduce pain in patients with HIV-related Peripheral Neuropathy (52 percent), which is comparable to the results of orally ingested drugs for this type of neuropathy. Collective Evolution lists 20 studies cited in journals like The British Journal of Cancer, The Journal of Neuroscience, US National Library of Medicine, and Molecular Pharmacology, which reveal that medical cannabis has properties that inhibit tumor growth and number, reduce neuronal injury, inhibit cell proliferation, decrease cancer cell invasiveness, and are toxic to certain kinds of tumors.
There were concerns that these laws would lead to an increase in marijuana use among teens, but according to Marijuana Policy Project, “data have shown that concerns about these laws increasing youth marijuana use are unfounded.” According to the Medical Marijuana Policy Project, “ a May 2013 Fox News poll found that 85 percent of Americans think ‘adults should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician prescribes it.’” Even though many states are legalizing medical cannabis, there is still not agreement at the federal level of law. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to PolitFact.com, reminded Florida voters that even if the state amendment passed making marijuana legal, it would still be a federal criminal offense.
While President Barack Obama does not support marijuana legalization, Senator Harry Reid came out in favor of supporting medical cannabis legalization, according to two articles in the Huffington Post (from October 2013 and January 2014, respectively). “I think we need to take a real close look at this,” Reid added, “I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana.” According to the HuffPo report, this makes Mr. Reid “one of the highest elected officials in the U.S. government to give his support.”
As each state legalizes medical cannabis, the case becomes stronger for federal legalization. Next states considering medical cannabis legalization are Florida, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, according to ProCon.org. Boston.com mentioned that “the U.S. House voted to step back and leave medical cannabis laws up to states.” According to Boston.com, 73 percent of Americans think using medical cannabis is a good idea.
Criteria for use of medical cannabis varies from state to state. Laws in Minnesota are very strict via limiting prescriptions of marijuana to pills, vaporization, and oil applications (in food). While laws in California are very liberal, allowing patients to possess marijuana leaves and the laws take a liberal position on what illnesses qualify people to use medical cannabis, according to the Boston.com article.
By Christine Robert