Medical marijuana has improved the lives of millions of patients in America

If you go back around 25 years, there was not a single state with legalized medical cannabis. However, after cannabis was legalized for medical purposes in California and Arizona during 1996, a major legalization movement began. Nowadays, that legalization movement has affected nearly the entire nation as all but three states have some type of medicinal marijuana law on the books. However, the requirements to qualify for it vary greatly from one state to another, and some states have restrictions on what types of cannabis products can be prescribed by doctors, including limits on the THC content of medicinal cannabis products.

How many people receive medical marijuana?

This varies significantly from state to state. In some areas, the laws are highly restrictive, which means that there’s only a small handful of medical marijuana patients. For instance, when medical marijuana laws were passed in Georgia, it was not legally possible for anyone to sell medical marijuana, including dispensaries.

This problem with the legislation remained for a period of four years after the bill was initially passed in 2015. However, there was some encouraging marijuana news when a bill signed in April of 2019 allowed for medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened in the state, which is creating a legal avenue for people to get their medication. However, some states have much less restrictive medical marijuana laws.

Overall, medical cannabis is quite common in the United States as around 3 million people are estimated to be medical marijuana patients. Oklahoma and California have the highest percentage of the population who receives medicinal marijuana. About 3.44% of California’s population is part of the state medical marijuana program, and around 3.71% of Oklahoma’s population receives medical cannabis.

In other states where medical marijuana is legal, the percentage of the state’s population that’s prescribed it is under 1%. For instance, North Dakota has a medicinal marijuana program yet only 0.1% of the population receives it, which is because the state’s medicinal marijuana program is extremely small.

Where is medical marijuana still not legal?

There hasn’t been much encouraging marijuana news in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota as medical marijuana remains illegal in these states. However, there are quite a few states that only allow the use of CBD oil that contains an exceptionally low percentage of THC, such as South Carolina and Tennessee where only CBD oil with a THC content of 0.9% or less. However, some medical conditions are best treated with a significantly larger amount of THC, which patients in these states are unable to receive.

What’s the difference between marijuana sold for recreational purposes and medical marijuana?

If you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legalized, you may have seen a “medical menu” at your local dispensary, which may include products that are specifically designed for certain health issues. For instance, a cannabis strain called Charlotte’s Web was bred to have an exceptionally low THC content and a high CBD content, which can be used to treat certain treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. In some states, patients with medical marijuana are able to access products that have a higher THC content than what people using marijuana for recreational purposes are allowed to purchase.

What types of conditions qualify for medical marijuana?

While the list of qualifying conditions varies greatly from one state to another, there are certain conditions that states with medical marijuana laws tend to recognize. While chronic, severe pain is one example of a condition that most states allow medical marijuana treatment for, these are a few other examples of conditions that doctors can prescribe it for:

– Glaucoma: While conventional medications are more effective for glaucoma than marijuana, cannabis is often used in addition to conventional treatments due to the fact that it can reduce pressure inside the eye, which can lead to significant improvements in the health of patients.

– Anxiety and depression: Many states allow the use of medical marijuana for anxiety and depression along with related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Around 3-5% of people currently are struggling with depression, and 18% of people have an anxiety disorder, which means that this benefit of medical marijuana could affect a lot of people.

– Cancer: People who suffer from cancer often have to undergo chemotherapy, and this can lead to significant side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. Marijuana is highly effective for these side effects and may even have anti-cancer properties itself, which are likely to be researched much more in the future. Due to the fact that more than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, this use of medical cannabis is one of the most important ones.

– HIV/AIDS: This condition can cause severe appetite loss that can cause sufferers to become dangerously underweight, which is something that medical marijuana is able to treat.

– Crohn’s disease: While marijuana does not treat the root cause of Crohn’s Disease, it can bring about reductions in inflammation in the digestive tract.

– Autism spectrum disorders: People with autism have often experienced benefits of medical marijuana, which means that the condition can qualify an individual for a medical marijuana prescription in some states. Around 1% of the population has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which means that this use of medical marijuana has improved the lives of many people.

However, in states with less restrictive medical marijuana laws, doctors are able to prescribe cannabis for a much wider range of conditions. In fact, Colorado recently passed legislation that allows physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for any condition that otherwise would require the use of opiate-based painkillers. In addition, there are conditions you wouldn’t expect to qualify for a medical marijuana prescription, which doctors are able to prescribe it for in some states, such as ADHD. In addition, certain medical marijuana states have a clause that allows doctors to prescribe cannabis for “other uses” on an as-needed basis.

Can doctors outside of medical marijuana states recommend CBD oil?

Unfortunately, CBD is not an FDA approved treatment for anything other than two rare causes of seizures that are not treatable with conventional medications, which means that doctors cannot prescribe it for anything else. However, they can give a written recommendation to patients for CBD oil, which can be done in any state since CBD oil is legal in all 50 states! Unfortunately, due to the lack of FDA approval, most physicians don’t recommend it to their patients.

Is medical marijuana likely to be expanded?

Medical marijuana legislation is expected to be expanded in many states in the future. Furthermore, the three states where medical marijuana is currently illegal are likely to eventually legalize medicinal marijuana. In fact, Idaho already has an initiative to pass medicinal marijuana legislation, which may gain traction in the future and lead to some very encouraging marijuana news!

Summary

A lot has changed in the last 25 years when it comes to medical marijuana, and it is now available almost everywhere in the United States. There are literally hundreds of conditions that cannabis and the compounds within it are able to treat. Medicinal marijuana has changed the lives of many patients, and we can expect more marijuana news about medicinal marijuana improving and even saving lives.

References

https://www.mpp.org/issues/medical-marijuana/state-by-state-medical-marijuana-laws/medical-marijuana-patient-numbers/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms

https://www.leafly.com/news/health/qualifying-conditions-for-medical-marijuana-by-state

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