Current Laws on Medical Marijuana [Update]
There are laws regarding Cannabis in 44 states of the U.S. The possession, use, transportation, and cultivation of this drug is still illegal under the federal law of the country. But if the state government passes laws legalizing the usage of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, the federal government has articulated that it can do so following certain legal regulations.
Federal cannabis laws
- The federal government has passed laws to monitor drugs under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Cannabis comes under the category of Schedule 1, under which the government does not recognize the difference between the recreational and medical use of cannabis.
- Under the CSA, the government finds marijuana additive and states its possession, distribution, and consumption as illegal.
- Doctors cannot prescribe cannabis to a patient for treatment, under the federal law. They can, however, “recommend” its consumption under the First Amendment.
State medical cannabis laws
- In 1996, under the proposition 215, California became the first U.S state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Since then 28 states have followed suit and enacted similar laws in their territories.
- Recently, marijuana laws were introduced in 17 states of the U.S. As per the laws, “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products can be used for medical purposes in certain situations or in the case of criminal penalties. Since these laws allow limited use of medical marijuana, they cannot be counted as comprehensive medical marijuana programs.
State vs Federal opinion
In 2016, the federal bodies issued some memorandum to strike a balance between state and federal laws pertaining to marijuana. On 29th August 2013, the Department of Justice issued a guideline that had eight points to ensure that the laws concerning licensed usage of the drug are followed and fulfilled. These guidelines stated:
- Distribution of marijuana to minors is prohibited
- Revenue generated from the sales of the drug should not go in the hands of illegal gangs and criminals
- Transportation of marijuana from states where it is legal to possess the drug to a state where it is illegal.
- State-approved use of marijuana cannot be used as a cover to trade illegal drugs.
- No violence in the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
- Marijuana use should not result in drugged driving and lead to other negative health impacts.
- Marijuana cannot be grown and tended on public lands. Further, it should not cause any harm to the attendants to the crop nor pose any environmental danger on public properties.
- Marijuana is prohibited from use on federal property
Since 2016, most of the federal bodies except the Drug Enforcement Administration have started paying heed to the medicinal value of cannabis. After several guidelines and laws, The Department of Justice (DOJ) has now made it clear that state-authorized marijuana is not a priority. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), not even issues permission to other research institutes to grow their own marijuana. Earlier only the NIDA cultivated marijuana for research purposes.
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