Busy Week in Medical Cannabis – Shows a Mixed Bag

There are now 33 states where the use of medical marijuana/cannabis in some form is permitted—and there are ten states plus the District of Columbia that have approved marijuana/cannabis for recreational use.

When you look at this list, the Deep South is still largely lagging the rest of the country in legalizing it for medical use.

It appeared that Alabama was moving toward some legalization for medical use, but that momentum has stalled. Now they have decided to think about it some more.

Alabama lawmakers voted Friday to create a medical marijuana commission that will make recommendations for a bill they might consider in the 2020 legislative session. This is less than what proponents of the original bill had in mind. That plan would have created a medical marijuana commission to implement and regulate the legal of cannabis.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, momentum is swinging the other way.

A bill to greatly expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program cleared the state Senate Thursday. It now heads to the full Assembly for a vote.

The proposal would increase the maximum number of medical marijuana dispensaries, allow patients to buy larger quantities of the drug, and slowly phase out the sales tax on medical cannabis.

Although the bill passed easily, some lawmakers still raised doubts about the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been growing rapidly under Gov. Phil Murphy.

A little reported angle of medical marijuana/cannabis is the number of people who need it but can’t afford it.

This commentary by Julia Arnsten, M.D., is chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, and a registered practitioner with the New York State Medical Marijuana Program argues people who need it, have it prescribed, still can’t buy it.

Of nearly 500 chronic pain patients certified to use medical cannabis in our practice to date, fewer than half reported purchasing it at a licensed dispensary — largely because they cannot afford it.

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