Three Things That Make Medical Cannabis Hard To Provide
Just imagine: you have full access to medical marijuana. Cool, right? Not so fast. This access is not equal at all.
While many states allow their citizens to use cannabis for medical purposes, some of the programs remain ineffective. The medical marijuana system has many limitations and nuances that may directly impact patients in need.
In California, there are 19,4 medical marijuana patients per 1000 state residents. However, in Minnesota, this figure is equal to 0,1 patients per 1000 state residents. Texas only steps on the road to medical cannabis with lawmakers creating confusing bills that delay program’s implementation. These numbers show variance state-by-state, and some serious obstacles prevent an easy and legal access.
Let’s see what they are:
Ambiguous language of laws
Legal language plays a huge role in an implementation of the legislature. Alright, you would say. How it affects medical marijuana acts?
Easy. For example, take Louisiana case – for many years a medical marijuana bill has been gathering dust on the shelves of the state senate. It was until 2015 when lawmakers finally amended the language and changed a verb ‘prescribe’ to a verb ‘recommend.’ After that, the bill passed.
The federal legislature still prohibits doctors from ‘prescription’ of medical marijuana, even if it’s legal in a particular state. However, doctors are allowed to recommend it. It makes possible for them to avoid prosecution for prescribing a drug from Schedule 1 list.
According to Amanda Reiman, manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, another problem is a lack of healthcare providers that are willing and able to consult and recommend medical cannabis. In some states, like Illinois or New York, doctors are free to recommend medical marijuana to patients who need it. However, a lack of training and educational programs coupled with fear of reputation damage and license revocation prevent them from doing it on a regular basis.
Another thing is a stigma around medical marijuana and cannabis users. For example, in New York physician must obtain a license from the state. They get it through two-to-four hour health department course. However, many practitioners are reluctant to do so because the drug’s stigma remains high (pun unintended).
Such reluctance and heavy dependence on conventional types of treatment led patients throughout the country to move from their homes and become medical refugees. It poses a serious question of medical help and access to quality treatment in the US.
Well, if you have checked our Handy Guide to Prop 215 & SB 420, you would know that you still can be raided and arrested for possession of medical marijuana. Despite some friendly TSA policies in different airports regarding marijuana, law enforcement and police still can arrest you. You need a strong defense and a medical marijuana recommendation to prove that you’re eligible to possess cannabis, and this amount is required to provide you relief.
However, even in California, with its established medical marijuana program, patients still face problems regarding employment, child welfare, and custody. According to federal prohibitions, a patient can be fired if they fail drug tests.
DEA rarely targets to prosecute individual patients; rather they tend to hunt dispensaries. For example, despite being allowed to have a lease for the purpose of growing and producing medical cannabis by SB 420 in California, dispensaries are still prone to raids and arrests. It all comes to the ambiguous language of the legislature that still has a window for such prosecution and abuse from law enforcement.
President Obama has recently signed into law an amendment that limited the DEA’s ability to raid marijuana facilities in legal states. Despite the fact that the law enforcement covertly resists this restriction, it was a huge call for marijuana dispensaries and patients in the country.
We still have a long way to go. With legalization efforts and brewing changes throughout the states, we’ve got a real opportunity to make medical and recreational marijuana accessible and bring relief to those who need it. All we need is education, protection, and concise legislation.