While 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved marijuana for medical use – and the momentum for more states approving it appears to be building – there’s a backlash in Montana. The Washington Post filed this story that indicates the use of medical marijuana in the Treasure State is under siege.
While it’s surprising what’s happening in Montana, given that the momentum toward expanded medical marijuana use appears to be accelerating nationally, the rules for it still vary from state to state. The USA Today has a story out talking about that very topic.
This confusion is not being helped by the federal government – at all. Because marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, federal agencies do not offer any guidance or medical protocol for state medical marijuana programs.
FDA approval of marijuana would require “carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Of course, those studies by and large aren’t happening because of the federal designation. The lack of science frustrate leaders in the treatment of pain.
“It is long past time that we do more serious scientific research into the medicinal efficacy of marijuana,” Daniel S. Bennett, M.D., CEO of the National Pain Foundation told us recently. “Anecdotal evidence that marijuana helps in chronic pain conditions has been mounting. The DEA’s monopoly on research supply is hurting science and perhaps by extension, many of the 100 million chronic pain patients in the U.S.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures 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.
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. And more states, notably California, are expected to vote for legalization of marijuana, not medical use – but outright legalization.
Why are states moving toward legalization? People’s attitudes toward marijuana have softened in the last decade. And there’s one other thing – tax revenue. Colorado has already raised $60.7 million in revenue associated with its marijuana sales. They tax it in three ways: the state sales tax of 2.9 percent, a 10 percent special sales tax only applied to marijuana sales and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfer. State legislators in other states are noticing.
There’s another issue, raised recently by National Pain Report’s Allie Haroutunian, a chronic pain patient who moved from Georgia back to her home state of Nevada because medical marijuana was easier to access in Nevada. She writes that while marijuana still may be approved for medical use, finding it in one’s system can be a problem at the job and other aspects of “real life.” As Allie pointed out in this column even when medical marijuana is legal, often it isn’t.
The confusion over medical marijuana continues.