What would you like to know

If you’ve ever thought about trying medical marijuana treat the throbbing pain or relieve the symptoms of a chronic illness, you may have stopped because of a few crucial questions: medical marijuana legal where I live? Can I have problems using it?

If you live in the United States, the answers are: it depends on where you live, and it is possible, but unlikely.

It can be difficult to understand medical marijuana laws, as many state regulations directly conflict with federal laws. In addition, there has been a drastic change in attitudes towards marijuana, or cannabis, in this country over the years, which has led an ever-increasing number of states to overturn laws prohibiting it. Even legal experts have a hard time knowing which states now allow the sale and use of medical marijuana.

As a consumer, the first thing to do before considering marijuana as a medicine is to ask your doctor if it is safe for you to use it and if it is likely to provide you any benefit. If you get the green light, here’s what you need to know about the medical marijuana laws in the United States.

State laws prevail

Laws passed in the United States in the 1930s made it illegal to buy, sell or grow marijuana. The US government’s stance on the pot hasn’t changed much since then. “It is illegal to buy, possess, consume, or sell marijuana with respect to federal law,” says Jonathan H. Adler, JD, professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and author of Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane, a book on cannabis laws in the United States.

However, says Adler, the risk of the federal government prosecuting an individual for possession of cannabis is extremely low. Instead, federal agents are focusing more on the big growers of marijuana who sell it on the black market or anyone who sells weed to children, he says.

In addition, states are allowed to make their own laws regarding the sale and use of cannabis. As of this writing, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, as well as the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories (Guam, Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands). “Congress has repeatedly limited the ability of the federal government to interfere with medical marijuana programs,” Adler said. “So if you act under your state’s law, you’re still breaking federal law, but you’re not at significant legal risk. “

A patchwork of laws

If you are interested in medical marijuana, the first step is to determine if it is legal in your state. For residents of two states, Nebraska and Idaho, as well as the territory of American Samoa, the answer is simple: no. Other states and jurisdictions have a patchwork of laws that differ significantly from state to state. However, the states that allow the consumption of cannabis in one form or another all fall into one of three categories:

Only products containing CBD are legal. Some states only allow the sale of products containing CBD, or cannabidiol, which is one of the two main components of marijuana. The other major component in the pot is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, which is what makes you feel “high”. While CBD extracted from cannabis is used in a prescription drug to treat epilepsy, less is known about its benefits for other health problems.

Medical marijuana is legal. More than two-thirds of states have legalized the use of marijuana as a medicine, largely due to growing evidence that cannabis relieves conditions such as chronic pain and chemotherapy-Related nausea and vomiting. To obtain cannabis in a state that only allows the use of medical marijuana, you must first receive a referral from a doctor or other health care professional licensed to do so in your state. In some states, such as Oklahoma, a doctor may recommend medical marijuana for any condition. Other states, like Montana, only allow patients with specific medical conditions (such as glaucoma and Cancer) to benefit from a recommendation. The next step is to present a doctor’s referral to your state’s Cannabis Commission, which will issue a cannabis card for a fee. A cannabis card allows you to purchase medical marijuana from a retailer, known as a dispensary.

Any adult can buy cannabis. A growing number of states allow any adult to purchase marijuana without a medical cannabis card. However, if your goal is to treat a medical problem, it still makes sense to speak to your doctor before consuming cannabis and obtaining a medical cannabis card, says Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA ).

“This is especially important if you have a chronic illness or if you are taking other drugs, since cannabis could interact with other drugs, ”explains Churgai. Additionally, the ASA is pushing to offer certain benefits to people who use cannabis for medical purposes, such as tax breaks, priority access to preferred products, and compassionate use programs for people who cannot afford to live. allow medical marijuana, Churgai said.

Other differences from state to state

State laws regarding cannabis vary in several other ways. If you are planning to use medical marijuana, first make sure you know:

  • What form of cannabis is legal. Minnesota allows the use of medical marijuana, but it is illegal to smoke a joint or take a bong; cannabis is only permitted in liquid, tablet or vaporized form.
  • How much cannabis you can own. In Arizona, a medical cannabis patient can have up to 2.5 ounces at one time, but in Florida the limit is 4 ounces.
  • If you can grow pot at home, and how much. You can’t grow yours in Ohio, for example, but in Maine, a two-adult household can grow up to a dozen plants.
  • If your medical cannabis card is valid in the state you are visiting. For example, medical cannabis is legal in Missouri, but dispensaries in that state do not recognize medical cannabis cards outside of the state.

Protect yourself

Following other rules may prevent you from legal risks if you choose to use marijuana for medical purposes.

  • Do not drive while using medical marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all states, whether or not you have a medical cannabis card. The ASA recommends taking medication after you arrive at your destination.
  • Don’t cross state borders with cannabis. It’s also illegal, which means if you are traveling from one state to another, don’t pack your potty. If the state you’re traveling in recognizes your medical cannabis card, you can buy medical marijuana when you visit, says Churgai, but only buy what you need, because you can’t bring leftovers back home. the House.
  • Beware of buying pot on the black market. Let’s say Jason, your son’s friend, grows and sells weed. If you buy from him, it is an illegal transaction. “Just because marijuana may be legal for medicinal or recreational purposes in a state does not mean that anyone can sell marijuana to anyone,” says Adler, who explains that legal sellers must be. authorized by the state. Additionally, cannabis sold in dispensaries is tested for quality and purity, abilities Jason likely lacks.

When federal law matters

No matter what state you live in, federal laws against marijuana use can still affect you. For example, if you live in federally subsidized housing, that is prohibited, says Churgai. If you are considering purchasing a gun, previous cannabis use is a problem: the background check required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asks if you have consumed illegal drugs, making it clear that the list includes marijuana, Adler says. If your job requires federal security clearance, you may be refused if you have a medical cannabis card. Finally, because banks must follow federal regulations, most will not process credit card transactions for medical marijuana dispensaries. Therefore, if you are buying cannabis, be sure to bring cash.

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