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The current status of medical marijuana laws in the United States

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by , 01-31-2012 at 12:14 AM (9399 Views)
Currently, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws legalizing medical marijuana. The laws regarding fees and possession vary by state.

Alaska
Alaska legalized medical marijuana under Ballot Measure 8 in 1998. Alaska’s possession limits are 1-ounce usable and 6 plants, 3 mature and 3 immature.

Arizona
Arizona enacted Proposition 203, legalizing medical marijuana in 2010. Arizona’s possession limits are 2.5-ounce usable and up to 12 plants.

California
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana under Proposition 215 in 1996. California’s possession limits are 8-ounce usable and 6 mature and 12 immature plants.

Colorado
Colorado enacted Ballot Amendment 20, legalizing medical marijuana in 2000. Colorado’s possession limits are two-ounce usable and six plants, three mature and three immature.

Delaware
Delaware is the most recent state to legalize medical marijuana by enacting the Senate Bill 17. Delaware’s possession limit is 6-ounce usable.

District of Columbia
The District of Columbia enacted Amendment Act B18-622, legalizing medical marijuana in 2010. The District of Columbia’s possession limits are 2-ounce usable, 6 plants, 3 mature and 3 immature.

Hawaii
Hawaii enacted the Senate Bill 862, legalizing medical marijuana in 2000. Hawaii’s possession limits are three-ounce usable and seven plants, three mature and four immature.

Maine
Maine enacted Ballot Question 2, legalizing marijuana in 1999. Maine’s possession limits are 2.5-ounce usable and 6 plants.

Michigan
Michigan enacted Proposal 1, legalizing medical marijuana in 2008. Michigan’s possession limits are 2.5-ounce usable and 12 plants.

Montana
Montana enacted Initiative 148, legalizing medical marijuana in 2004. Montana’s possession limits are one-ounce usable, four mature plants and twelve seedlings.

Nevada
Nevada enacted Ballot Question 9, legalizing medical marijuana in 2000. Nevada’s possession limits are 1-ounce usable and seven plants, three mature and four immature.

New Jersey
New Jersey enacted Senate Bill 119, legalizing medical marijuana in 2010. New Jersey’s possession limit is 2-ounce usable.

New Mexico
New Mexico enacted the Senate Bill 523, legalizing medical marijuana in 2007. New Mexico’s possession limits are 6-ounce usable, 16 plants, 4 mature and 12 immature.

Oregon
Oregon enacted Ballot Measure 67, legalizing marijuana in 1998. Oregon’s possession limits are 24-ounce usable, and 24 plants, 6 mature and 18 immature.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island enacted the Senate Bill 0710, legalizing medical marijuana in 2006. Rhode Island’s possession limits are 2.5-ounce usable and 12 plants.

Vermont
Vermont enacted the Senate Bill 76 and HB 645, legalizing medical marijuana in 2004. Vermont’s possession limits are two-ounce usable and nine plants, two mature and seven immature.

Washington
Washington enacted Initiative 692, legalizing marijuana in 1998. Washington’s possession limits are 24-ounce usable and fifteen plants.

What is the current trend?
State laws legalizing medical marijuana remove criminal penalties for individuals who use marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes. The American Medical Association, the Institute of Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and patient advocates have shown some support for therapeutic uses of marijuana and changes in federal enforcement policies to establish clinical standards for marijuana use. Currently, the federal Controlled Substances Act has marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that it is a drug with a high risk for drug abuse and without medical use. With this classification, it is criminal under federal law to prescribe, dispense, and possess marijuana for any purpose.

In October 2009, the Department of Justice issued memoranda indicating that federal funds and resources should not be used for the prosecution of people whose actions comply with state laws allowing medicinal use of marijuana. This serves as a bridge to new laws legalizing medical marijuana. States are presently designing laws that will both provide access to patients and address drug abuse. Unfortunately, state laws do not deal with standards such as potency, quality, purity, dosing, packaging, and package labeling.

State laws also allow a patient’s caregiver to lawfully possess and cultivate marijuana. A caregiver is an adult assisting the patient with his medical use of marijuana. State laws also protect qualifying patients, who are diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition and written document from physician, and allow cultivation and possession. State laws also determine what diseases and conditions permit medical marijuana use, such as HIV-AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, severe and chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, etc. State laws vary regarding the regulation of qualifying patients through a registry and identification cards. Currently, eleven states maintain a registry with other states following suit. Most states issue identification cards to protect qualifying patients from arrest and prosecution. While states are leading the trend pushing for the legalization of marijuana, state laws do not trump federal laws.
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