As the support for medical marijuana is steadily growing among Americans, an increasing number of states are approving and developing their medical cannabis policies in favor of saving people's lives. The changes are so drastic that the latest actions carried out by medical marijuana defenders and legislators may lead to the end of federal medical cannabis prohibition.
While the Senate is currently considering medical marijuana benefits and risks after the hearing chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham, there are other signals that also point at possible lifting of the federal ban on medical marijuana.
This year, Ohio and Pennsylvania have joined states with legalized medical cannabis, and Missouri and Arkansas are also going to pass marijuana-related initiatives in November. House Bill 523 adopted by the Ohio Senate in May allows opening dispensaries aimed to sell medical marijuana in the state. In Pennsylvania, Senate Bill 3 proposed by Senator Mike Folmer was passed in April. The bill will permit the state residents suffering from autism, HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, PTSD, and other debilitating conditions to purchase medical marijuana by prescription.
American states where medical marijuana has already been legalized are currently improving their cannabis legislation. For example, the Virginia Senate made an important step by passing Senate Bill 701 in February. This bill will legalize the production and manufacturing of THC and CBD concentrates.
In addition, Maryland adopted House Bill 104 in April. It warrants nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and podiatrists to qualify patients for medical marijuana along with licensed physicians. Florida will also make improvements in their medical cannabis program through the November referendum.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683) is aimed to continue medical marijuana programs without federal interference, move cannabis and CBD from the scheduling, and end NIDA monopoly and the Public Health service control.
Senator Graham (R-SC) has already joined the CARERS Act earlier this year. Moreover, David Young (R-IA) also joined the bill to support Iowans' decision to be treated with medical cannabis. However, Senator Chuck Grassley will not put the CARERS Act to a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee regardless of the fact that 78% of Iowans support medical cannabis.
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have received a letter with the request to give the CARERS Act a vote on the behalf of 13 national patient organizations, including Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas, Epilepsy Foundation, Americans for Safe Access, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, and others.
Republican Allen Peake, the author of the current Georgia legislation known as Haleigh’s Hope Act (HB1), broke the state's laws in order to provide patients with medical marijuana. He brought medical cannabis to Georgians from other states, as the applicable law does not permit cannabis growing, production, and distribution in Georgia.
In addition, Mike Weinholtz, a candidate for Utah governor from the Democratic Party, is another politician who supports medical cannabis after his wife was prosecuted for using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and arthritis. Now, he promises his voters to sign a medical cannabis bill in case of his election.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines for prescribing opioid drugs in May. According to the CDC requirements, pain physicians should not refuse health care for patients that have THC in their system. Previously, patients who had positive THC results were denied or restricted from getting painkillers. Though patients may still be tested for THC, the CDC guidelines recommend pain doctors to test patients for only those substances that are necessary to perform the patient's treatment.
Cannabis-related studies have shown a positive impact of medical cannabis on people's health. According to the Journal of American Medicine, patients in the states where medical marijuana is legal have a significant decrease in opioid overdose mortality rate in contrast with the states where medical cannabis is still prohibited.
Walgreens, the largest pharmaceutical retailer in the United States, advocated for medical use of cannabis by posting an article about medical marijuana benefits on the Walgreens Tumblr site in April. This post contained information about conditions for which medical marijuana can be helpful, possible downsides, methods of delivery, as well as recommendations to consult medical cannabis doctors before buying the drug.
Despite the challenging election race and political differences, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand for the state medical cannabis programs. The Democrats claimed last week that medical marijuana should be removed from the Schedule I list, and they are going to encourage the federal government. However, there is a concern that Governor Chris Christie acting as Attorney General might pose a counter on medical marijuana policies.
After introduction of the bipartisan Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016 in June, the bill has appeared to be sponsored by several most vocal cannabis opponents, including Andy Harris (R-Md.), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Chris Coons (D-DE). Though these politicians made steps to promote medical marijuana research with this bill, they did nothing to protect the interests of cannabis patients.
All of the mentioned political changes confirm that the conflict between the federal and state medical marijuana laws will soon come to its end. However, if you do not want to wait for years, sign the petition for the CARERS Act passing and contact your Congress representatives.