Medical Marijuana – States Versus the Feds

Medical Marijuana – States Versus the Feds

The tension between states and the federal government over marijuana impacts chronic pain patients who want to use marijuana to combat their condition. 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have adopted laws that allow patients to use medical marijuana.

And yet the federal government still characterizes marijuana as illegal.

National Pain Report columnist Allie Haroutunian wrote a strong column recently that talked about the real world implications of this tension between the federal government’s view of marijuana and the implications of it on people who use medical marijuana for chronic pain and other medical conditions. Her column is titled Medical Marijuana – even when it’s legal it isn’t.

So this week, it wasn’t surprising when the National Conference of State Legislatures, meeting in Seattle, approved a resolution supporting the amendment of the Controlled Substances Act and other federal laws to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.

The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Representative Renny Cushing notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”

“State lawmakers just sent a message to Congress that could not be any clearer,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country. “It’s time to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and let the states decide what policies work best for them.

“A majority of Americans support making marijuana legal for adults and even more think states should be able to establish their own marijuana laws without federal intrusion,” O’Keefe said. “This resolution is a strong indication that legislators throughout the nation are not just hearing from but listening to their constituents when it comes to marijuana policy.”

Marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales are illegal under federal law, but the Department of Justice has indicated that it will not allocate resources toward enforcing federal marijuana laws in cases involving individuals or businesses that are acting in compliance with state laws.

In addition to states that have approved medical marijuana,  four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — have adopted laws that make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Diane Gracely at 8:02 am

    It’s time to legalize all 50 states and allow the use of medical marijuana for ALL chronic pain sufferers. Not just those with cancer or epilepsy. There are many many illnesses that cause chronic pain and the patients can use medical marijuana rather than opiates to help them. Marijuana is SAFER than opiates. AND when used in edible and oil form it works better and longer than opiates. WHOLE PLANT works best. NOT just CBD. The whole plant is needed for many illnesses and our bodies. And we the patients NEED to be able to GROW OUR OWN medicine. It requires a lot of marijuana to make edibles and oils and many patients CAN make their own edibles and oils and be able to AFFORD it by growing their own. MOST patients will NOT be able to afford to buy from dispensaries the required amounts needed to make edibles and oils. If you seriously want to STOP he War on Drugs… LEGALIZE medical marijuana and let the patients grow their own!

  2. PhDScientist at 1:30 pm

    We’re facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
    Marijuana is “a rain forest in a single plant”
    Its not just a “Wonder Drug” its a whole bunch of them.
    There’s no other medicine that has shown so much promise in such a wide variety of diseases or has such a wide therapeutic index.
    We should be deploying it in a wide range of large scale clinical trials and it should be available to anyone and everyone who can benefit from it.
    Its ironic that its been safely used around the world for over 5,000 years but that people are claiming that they need more research on it before removing it from Schedule 1. Ask any Cancer patient that’s used it. Ask the parent of any kid with Seizures its helped save the life of. We don’t need any more evidence to de-schedule it and make it over the counter or able to be prescribed on the same basis as every other medication. It should be over the counter. Its safer than NSAIDS and much safer than Tylenol.

  3. PhDScientist at 12:15 pm

    *** Correction ***

    82% of Oncologists want their Cancer Patients to be able to use Medical Marijuana.
    What right does the government have deny America’s Cancer patients the right to have safe and legal access to it?

    Why is Marijuana on Schedule 1, when Cocaine, Meth, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl — which is 50-100 times stronger than Morphine — 15 times stronger Heroin — (and is available in a number of forms, including “Fentanyl Lollypops”) are all Schedule 2, and can be prescribed by Physicians in all 50 states?

  4. PhDScientist at 12:14 pm

    It is a MORAL IMPERATIVE that Medical Marijuana be immediately legalized in all 50 states.

    For Cancer patients, for kids suffering from Seizures, and for so many others, safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana is a matter of life and death.

    Ask any American who’s gone through Chemotherapy who’s used it.
    There’s a great article in the July 22nd special issue of Newsweek on CANCER, titled
    “Marijuana is a Wonder Drug for when it comes to the horrors of Chemo”
    According to a 2014 poll, 82% of Oncologists felt that Medical Marijuana should be included as a treatment option.

    Ask the parents of any American kid with a seizure disorder who’s life its saved.

    They need a special kind of Marijuana oil that’s impossible to get in the 27 states that don’t have Medical Marijuana, and for their kids, its a matter of life and death.

    We need the President to cut through the red tape and take personal action on this issue right now. We need Congress to pass the CARERS act too. Americans are suffering and dying — needlessly!

    Please call the whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President have Marijuana removed from Schedule 1, You can email the President by going to whitehouse.gov and clicking on “contact us”

    Call and email your Senators and Representative, and ask that they pass the CARERS act — IMMEDIATELY.

    Call and email every day, and ask everyone you know to call and email every day, and to keep calling, and keep emailing, for however long it takes, until the President, Congress or both take action.

    Please do everything you can to get as many people as possible to call and email and to keep on calling and emailing, every single day.

    Do everything you can to help with this effort.

    Pass it on.

    With luck the effort will go viral.

    The lives of countless Americans depend on it.

  5. marty at 4:26 am

    I have done so much research on marijuana and it’s medical benefits that I find it odd that people with chronic pain don’t have access to it. It many cases chronic pain is being treated with opioids as the last resort because they aren’t really sure what is causing the pain. It could be 1 of 100 things. I am 63 years old and have had illnesses for many years but for that last 3 years I have not had a day under 8 on the pain scale and that’s where is is when I take my pills. Sure they have tried every pill and patch and things I don’t want because I want to at least be able to function some what. I have even toyed with the idea of buying some marijana off the street to at least have the option of trying it to see if it eased my pain. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. I have 5 kids, the youngest being 22 and even his friends don’t do the stuff any more being the young people now days are actually trying to make good lives for themselves. We just need the option along with cancer patients, people with lupus etc.

  6. John Irwin at 9:16 pm

    Yes, if one has a valid prescription for the FDA/DEA approved, Schedule 3, Marinol (synthetic analogue of Delta Nine THC – primary intoxicant in Cannabis), an employer would not be able to remove a potential hire, or existing employee, for a positive test for metabolites (so long as the employer was made aware, by the employee, of their holding a valid prescription. The same is true of “non-driving” related offenses and police “testing” – so long as the individual has a valid prescription for the Marinol – there is no “offense” in a positive test for metabolites.
    Further, the “warning” on the patient insert that is provided with Marinol does not forbid a patient’s driving or operating machinery “under the influence”, it only cautions the patient not to do so until the patient understands and can accommodate for the effects of the medication before doing so (good enough for the FDA/DEA, yes?).
    The “entity” controlling the “source” of the THC is the sticking point – if the metabolites are derived from Marinol, on a valid Federal Prescription, one is “good” both in employment and on the road, if the source of the metabolites is derived from the Schedule One “plant material”? One is screwed.

  7. Darisse Smith at 9:23 am

    In CA one thing I have noticed is that even if you have your MMJ card and do everything legally, if you are applying for a job and have it in your system, you will be denied employment. Most companies abide by federal law, no matter what. Something has got to give.