By: Brandon Lancaster
Allowing medical use of marijuana and decriminalizing it (along with sufficient regulation) is the most practical recommendation considered from the alternative policy solutions. This memo seeks to explain a plausible federal policy which could be implemented within the United States.
The first concern about medical marijuana is the amount of federal control. According to a couple of sources, states which allow medical marijuana use to have detailed lists of what diseases qualify to obtain a medical card (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2019: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2016). Pennsylvania’s (2018) law requires the individual to qualify under one or more of the 23 diseases list from a certified doctor before providing a medical marijuana card (para. 8). As for Colorado (2019), the list is more restrictive, where an individual must have one of 12 medical condition to qualify for a medical marijuana card (para. 4 and 5). Looking at the two lists, it is clear medical officials have different opinions on what symptoms medical marijuana may treat. As such, the federal government should provide the baseline of the symptoms for medical marijuana use. A baseline allows researchers a better base knowledge and accelerates the next findings of marijuana’s effects. The reason for being a baseline and not the limit is for states to expand research opportunities to further develop the knowledge of medical marijuana.
Another concern medical marijuana use and decriminalization poses is exposure to minors. Looking at Sam Wang et al’s (2016) study, marijuana exposure cases with children in Colorado saw a 34 percent increase from 2009 to 2015 (pg. 4). While it may not be medical, the study still shows human error at home may have adverse effects with minors. Increased minor exposure discredits the marijuana’s medical value as it causes more hospital visits instead of ailing symptoms. This may be a concern, but this is due to human error. The federal government can do its best by requiring child-proofing medical marijuana containers, but it ultimately depends on the responsibility of the user to keep it out of children’s reach.
The federal government would implement medical marijuana into pharmacies like prescription drugs. Medical marijuana would be easily tracked and research on marijuana widely accessible. This would also allow medical professionals to access a network across the nation to compare and improve the knowledge on medical marijuana. In addition, patients would be able to access their medicine from any state as interstate medical industry would be established. People would have to qualify on an approved federal qualifying disease list to access medical marijuana. Along with this, decriminalization will start to chip away at the current narrative of marijuana. The race propelled incarcerations would decrease, causing people to associate race with marijuana. The medical narrative of marijuana would effectively be well known and replace the race narrative of marijuana.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2019). Qualifying Medical Conditions Medical Marijuana Registry. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/qualifying-medical-conditions-medical-marijuana-registry
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (2016, April 6th). Getting Medical Marijuana. Retrieved from https://www.pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program/
Wang, GS., Le Lait, M., Deakyne, S., Bronstein, A., Bajaj, L., Roosevelt, G. (2016, July 25). Unintentional Pediatric Exposures to Marijuana in Colorado, 2009-2015. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2534480