There been a clear resurgence in interest in cannabis, more commonly called marijuana, as medicine. The federal government made cannabis use illegal in 1970 with passage of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. If you are wondering what this law did, it categorized marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that is highly addictive, has high abuse potential, and no accepted medical value. This is the same drug schedule that includes heroin and LSD. 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing medical cannabis use despite the federal prohibition.
The Marijuana remains illegal under federal law
The supremacy clause of the US Constitution states that “in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied and state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.” This means that despite state laws providing for legalized medical marijuana use, it is still illegal according to federal law. Legal and compliant businesses and patients who possess cannabis are offered a degree of protection from federal prosecution through the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. This law effectively prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with state medical marijuana.
Your employer may fire you for therapeutic cannabis use
Many of us work for companies that have designated themselves drug-free work places. This means that consumption, distribution, selling, or using controlled substances is banned and that failure to follow this rule can result in firing. There is an exception for those of us who are appropriately taking medications prescribed by our doctor. The unfortunately reality is that the federal government still does not recognize cannabis as medicine and employers can terminate an employee based on federal law.
Studies have not only been conducting validating the medicinal value of cannabis, but also its inherent safety, especially when compared to other medications that have been FDA approved.
You can legally be discriminated against if you use cannabis therapy
Continuing to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug allows patients who use it legally as medicine according to state laws to be legally discriminated against when it comes to housing, employment, and education. Studies have not only been conducting validating the medical value of cannabis, but also its inherent safety, especially when compared to other medications that have been FDA approved.
More research needs to be done
Access to medical grade cannabis for research is limited to one institution, The University of Mississippi, that is authorized to grow it. Marijuana researchers have complained that this cannabis is of poor quality and the government bureaucracy has made it notoriously difficult to obtain the medicine and approval for research into the beneficial effects of cannabis. We will be more able to fully understand the benefits and potential risks of therapeutic cannabis with robust research using high grade medicine. Some beneficial and even some harmful effects of cannabis have not been discovered.
National Legalization of Medical Cannabis is On the Way
Cannabis for medical use has been legalized in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and recreational cannabis use is now legal in 8 states. This means that over half of the US population now lives in a state where legal marijuana is obtainable. Opinion polls also show overwhelming support for therapeutic marijuana with over 60% of Americans approving it.