The pro medical marijuana movement has gained yet another powerful voice in favor of the Legalization Debate, allowing states to decide whether to allow patients to use marijuana to treat various diseases. In an interview with NBC’s David Gregory, former President Bill Clinton conceded that “there is a lot of evidence pointing toward the positive benefits of medical marijuana”.
The man who famously “didn’t inhale” said, “I think there are a lot of unresolved questions, but I think we should leave it to the states. This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where this is going.”
Mr. Clinton is just the latest in a long line of influential people who seemingly agree that it is time to take a serious look at allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes. During his time as president, Barack Obama has tended to agree that the decision should be left up to the states, which has led to marijuana being legalized for various purposes in multiple states. So far, only Colorado and Washington are the only states to allow marijuana use for recreational purposes. However, the Republicans have largely opposed the effort to allow marijuana to be legalized for any purpose in the Legalization Debate.
Even the most staunch supporters of marijuana can’t know the long term effects of legalizing marijuana use, and Mr. Clinton feels that marijuana still should not be endorsed at the federal level until more is known about how the situations play out. He argues that states should be allowed to determine whether or not they want marijuana in their state, and then the experiments can be examined over time to determine whether this is something that should be pursued at the federal level.
That a prominent political figure would speak in such a way about marijuana, Clinton remains active in various projects around the world, reflects the progress that has been made by supporters of the legalization movement. Marijuana is no longer the social taboo that it was just 15 years ago, and this has changed it from being a politically untouchable issue into a mainstream cause.
Medical marijuana is now approved for use in 22 of the 50 states in the United States and the District of Columbia, which is impressive considering where the movement stood just a few years ago. Although cannabis is approved for use in all these states, it does remain a Schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 drugs include the most addictive substances on the market, and these substances are usually punishable with time in jail. The Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing this classification at the request of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
If people as prominent as Bill Clinton continue to endorse the experiments that are going on with medical marijuana, the movement is sure to continue to gain traction with voters. There hasn’t been a movement in the legalization debate like this since the controversy with alcohol in the Prohibition Era.
It’s an exciting time to be paying attention to politics and no matter what side of the fence someone stands on in relation to marijuana, it’s important to be informed about the current trends in the marijuana debate. It’s something that potentially affects everyone in the country.
Legal Medical Marijuana States & States Pending Legalization of Medical Marijuana
As of January 2014, medical marijuana has been legalized in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The states that have boarded this contributed to this decision thus far include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
Though the use of medical marijuana has been legalized in these states, there are still rules and regulations regarding the issue. Here are the most important laws you should keep in mind:
1) In Colorado AND Washington State, marijuana is legal for both medicinal and non-medicinal uses. Both states allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 oz without a medical marijuana card.
2) In the remainder of the states, there is a limit on how much medical marijuana you can legally possess- varying by state of course.
- Alaska, Montana, Nevada: 1 oz
- Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Michigan: 2.5 oz
- California: 8 oz
- Colorado, DC, New Jersey, Vermont : 2 oz
- Connecticut: 1 month supply (to be determined by doctor)
- Delaware, New Mexico: 6 oz
- Hawaii: 3 oz
- Massachusetts: 60 day supply for personal medical use
- New Hampshire: 2 oz during 10-day period
- Oregon, Washington: 24 oz
3) There is also a limit to how much a legal “grower” can possess. This person must be registered in the state in which they reside and must reapply every 365 days for said registration. (also varies by state)
- Alaska, Colorado, Maine: 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature)
- Arizona: 0-12 plants
- California: 6 mature or 12 immature plants
- Hawaii, Nevada: 7 plants (3 mature, 4 immature)
- Michigan, Rhode Island: 12 plants
- Montana: 4 plants (mature) 12 seedlings
- New Mexico: 16 plants (4 mature, 12 immature)
- Oregon: 24 plants (6 mature, 18 immature)
- Vermont: 9 plants (2 mature, 7 immature)
- Washington: 15 plants
4) Cultivation is not allowed in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, or the District of Columbia and a special license is required in New Mexico. In Arizona, cultivation is only allowed if the patient lives outside of the 25 mile radius from any dispensary.
5) Maryland does not condone the legal use of marijuana. However, the maximum penalty for possession of marijuana that can be proven to be medically necessary is a fine no more than 100 dollars.
6) In Utah, cannabis oil to treat epilepsy will be dispensed as a trial starting July 2014. These patients will need documentation from a neurologist stating their medical documentation.
7) In 18/20 of the states above (with the exception of Washington and Colorado) you are required to carry at all times a medical marijuana “card” or ID that states you are legally allowed to possess marijuana for medicinal use. You will be required to reapply for your card every 365 days
8) Dispensaries are for non-profit. They can legally accept money as a gift, but each state limits the amount of money they are allowed to “collect” from patients.
9) If you are on legal probation or in the custody of a parole officer, it is up to the discretion of the correctional facility to decide whether or not you can use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Most medical marijuana doctors and clinics will not approve, however.
10) The most important law is federal. The possession of marijuana is still illegal in regards to federal no matter what amount it is. Use caution if you have a medical marijuana card and are considering travel. You will be subject to penalty under federal jurisdiction. The following states recognize out-of-state medical marijuana cards:
- Rhode Island
Keep in mind that there are 13 states that are currently pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. They are:
- New York
- South Carolina
- West Virginia