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Medical Marijuana

Is Medical Marijuana Really Legal In Your State? Define Legal.

Saying 'medical marijuana is legal' means very different things in different places.
Is Medical Marijuana Really Legal In Your State? Define Legal.
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Guest Writer
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3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the decision this summer by Oklahoma legislators to legalize medical marijuana, 31 states now allow cannabis for medical treatment. But that’s like saying each state has a flag. Sire it's true, but each one is different. And a closer look at the myriad of complex restrictions surrounding cannabis can make you want to fly your flag at half mast. 

Related: Oklahoma Legalizes Medical Marijuana

  • Oklahoma’s new law, for example, doesn’t allow a marijuana dispensary to sell smokable marijuana. In fact, the only way you can legally smoke marijuana in Oklahoma is if you get a medical card and grow the plant in your own home.
  • The same holds true in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Minnesota, where it is also prohibited to smoke medical marijuana.
  • Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, but you can’t buy it anywhere because the state has been slow to grant licenses and set up a regulatory system.
  • Maine is still trying to work out a regulated marijuana system that will get support from Gov. Paul LePage, who vetoed a law in 2017 to create an adult-use system in Maine despite the fact the state’s voters approved it in November 2016.
  • Vermont now allows possession and use of up to one ounce of cannabis, the state has no recreational sales market.

Another issue: Most states do not allow those from out-of-state to fill a prescription, even if they have a medical card. That means if you are from California and traveling in another state, you probably cannot get your medical marijuana prescription filled.

Related: Bong & Breakfast? Prince Edward Island to Allow Cannabis Use in Hotels

Restricted Uses

Each state also has a restricted list of medical conditions under which one can use medical marijuana.

That varies widely state-to-state, although most include cancer patients (often for chemotherapy-related nausea), HIV/AIDS patients, epilepsy, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some states have particularly strict policies. In Wisconsin, for example, it is virtually impossible to access cannabidiol (CBD) oil, even though it is legal in the state. While other states are more liberal towards who can use medical marijuana. In California, the medical marijuana law extends to migraines, nausea and “any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician."

Other states, such as Colorado, have a long list of illnesses that can be treated and allow other conditions for treatment if approved by the state.

Despite the positive momentum behind the legalization of cannabis across the U.S., it still appears we have a ways to go. There are still 19 states that do not allow medical marijuana at all. According to an updated list kept by Governing, they are:

  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Utah
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Texas
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

Related: Trouble In Arkansas: Judge Throws Out Medical Marijuana Licenses

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