The momentum toward the legalization of marijuana is actually hurting patients in states with legalized medical marijuana. It’s also hurting medical marijuana campaigns in states with no marijuana legislation on the books.
We know that three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana recreationally. The momentum is expected to continue. 2016 will be a big year for marijuana in general, as many states including California have initiatives on the ballot. But there is an unlikely dichotomy developing between medical and recreational legalization; potential changes to marijuana laws have patients unsure if they agree with recreational pot.
Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and Montana are trying, via the legislature or constitutional amendments, to pass recreational before being able to successfully pass medical marijuana. It would be a drastic transformation for those states to go from practically full lockdown to allowing everyone of age the ability to possess. These are all conservative states and one has to wonder if they are going to go all the way toward legalization – doubtful. In the meantime, patients who could use marijuana to lessen pain from a number of maladies can do nothing but wait (or use it illegally). And if those states turn it down, won’t that set back the adoption of medical marijuana even further?
So far states that have successfully passed recreational marijuana have done it in a gradual systematic manner: first pass medical marijuana then pass recreational. Passing recreational measures didn’t open a marketplace for medical patients…it just further complicated the patients ability to access medical marijuana. For instance, in Alaska medical marijuana patients don’t have access to and growers are only allowed one patient.
Some measures intertwine recreational and medical by allowing cannabis for all reasons including medical use; this gives the perception that medical is piggybacked in with recreational. In some states like Washington medical users fear that new rules/laws will change their current conditions including possession amounts, testing standards, and especially the amount grown personally.
Then there is the issue of what big business will do to marijuana. Many fear companies will want to exclusively produce the higher yielding (and not so medically beneficial) plant varieties on the masses; doing so will cause a supply and demand problem for medical patients. It will probably raise prices and create shortages. And yes, of course, the population who need it the most may end up being given the rawest possible end-deal when it becomes legal weed.
There are some positive signs that patients within the medical marijuana community have not been totally forgotten. Medical marijuana is typically much cheaper than the legal stuff; it’s also generally not taxed. Registering as a medical marijuana patient can also have other upsides related to age, amount able to grow, and possession. Also guaranteed access to specific medical only strains ensure high quality and strength. Take note of the tiered distinctions that exist with respect to classification in recreational states. Colorado is attempting to differentiate medical’s dosages and strengths by making all products be different (read: stronger) than recreational.
Don’t expect medical marijuana procedures to stay the same as everything else around it changes. Measures that include recreational legalization will ultimately demand adaptation revising the nature of how medical marijuana is handled in your state. It is up to the voters to decide if legalization is worth the potential sacrifices to medical marijuana.
We hope they are thinking about that.
Legal Recreational Marijuana:
Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C.
Legal Medical Marijuana:
Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington D.C.
Legal Medical CBD:
Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida