Federal Legislation On Marijuana Medical Use in Treatment


Patients across America who suffer from certain chronic diseases should at times be allowed to consume marijuana to some extent if they are under the instructions of physicians. The extent to which they consume the drug should be prescribed by the consumer so that the patients do not consume the drug in excess to an extent that it interferes with their personal health. Those who fall under the above category include those patients that suffer from HIV/ Aids, chemotherapy, sclerosis and cancer. Additionally, others that may fall in to the same category include those that suffer from epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis (Pugh et al. 1994). Other diseases that the patients can get relief once they consume the marijuana herb may also fall into the above category.  The patients are supposed to be allowed to consume marijuana if the consumption is supposed to help them get relief from either the disease itself or its symptoms. On the contrary, if the consumption of such a drug is proved to be dangerous to the health of the consumers, then such an intake should be stopped with an approval from a physician.

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A number of studies that have been conducted in the past have proved that the consumption of marijuana for certain category of medical patients should be made legal since it is important to their health. A study was conducted by the institute of Medicine in America that was assessing the science base of the use of marijuana. According to that research it was established that certain health problems such as nausea, anxiety and the loss of appetite are some of the health problems that can be treated through the uptake of marijuana that reduces the same effects (Pugh et al. 1994).

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Marijuana for medical use

Before the patients are allowed to use the substance, thorough medical reports are supposed to be written down by the physician in charge of the entire process. Moreover, there should be enough research to show that the consumption of such a drug is absolutely important to the health of the consumer. Additionally, those who are allowed to consume the drug should get an exemption from being arrested by the authorities so that they get to achieve better health status. Such patients are supposed to get protection from both the civil and criminal penalties so long as they adhere to the laws stated under the state laws. There are enough evidence for the medical field that supports the idea of patients using marijuana for the good of their own health. For instance, a research that was conducted by the college of physicians in the year 2008 closely advocated for the consumption of the same by certain categories of patients.

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This paper will handle the federal laws that that allows the consumption of the drug as well as the categories of those who demand the use of marijuana. Moreover, the paper will go into details of identifying who the suppliers of the drugs are and under what circumstance they are allowed by the law to supply the drugs to the patients. Apart from that, details regarding the public policies will also be handled.

Effects comparisons

When the consumption of marijuana is compared to that of other prescribed drugs, it is found out that consuming other prescribed drugs have far more reaching effects than that of marijuana. For instance, certain anti-malarial drugs have been proved to have far much effect on the consumers as compared to the effects of marijuana on the same patients. Similarly, the studies have also been able to show that the patients who get relief from using marijuana are at times not able to respond to the prescribed drugs (Tsodikov, 2008). In such scenarios, it is therefore important for the patients its use marijuana since it is of much benefit to their health as compared to the use of prescribed medical drugs that have effects on their bodies.  Control experiments have been able to show that some patients are able to get relief instantly during the moments when they vaporize marijuana. The vaporizing effect of such consumption has been shown to have immediate effects on the patients as compared to the effects that that they bet from the consumption of prescribed drugs. Moreover, the dosage of marijuana is normally left at the wish and discretion of the patients so long as they do not get into excess consumption. Another advantage that they have is that once the drug has been smoked then there is no way that it can get vomited back up. The drug therefore remains within the body systems of the patient for a much longer period. In the case of the prescribed drugs, the patients are most likely to suffer just in case they vomit the drug soon after consuming it may be due to irritation. Medical practitioners have in the past allowed and advocated for the use f certain drugs by their patients for the sake of improving their health conditions. Drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and morphine are some of the drugs that have been allowed in the past. The mentioned drugs are just some of the few known that have been considered to have very strong and catastrophic effects on their consumers. Therefore if such drugs can be allowed to be used by patients then why not permit the use of marijuana for the sake of good health of the medical patients? Moreover, it has never been proved that the users of marijuana have to be dependent on the drugs for them to survive. Additionally, the users of such a drug have never been known to overdose themselves with the drug since it is normally consumed in small portions.

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State laws

The state laws within twenty states in America have been able to permit the use of marijuana for the medically ill patients whose medical conditions require the use of marijuana. Among those states that have been able to allow the use of consumption of marijuana is Washington D.C. Moreover, those states have been able to allow the users of the drug to get protection from the security agencies. Other states apart from Washington that permit the use of marijuana include Illinois, New York, Alaska, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Minnesota, Nevada among others. Out of the twenty four states that offer protection to the ill patients, there are twenty two of them that permit the use ID cards by their patients for identification purposes (Department of Public health). What happens in those states is that the patients are issued with ID cards that are presented to the security agencies so that they (the patients) avoid being arrested.

In general, the laws can be said to be working well since they serve to offer protection as well as relief to the patients since they are capable of using the drug without fear of being arrested.  One advantage of the laws regulating the use of marijuana is that the number youths who were initially fond of abusing the drug have greatly reduced. The laws that govern the use of the drug were first introduced in America in the year 1996 and since then, data have shown that few youths have been implicated with the use of the drug. Furthermore, in the fifteen states where the laws were introduced, none of them have been able to record an increase in the number of youths who use the drug. On the contrary, most of those states have been able to record sharp decline in the number of marijuana users since the law governing marijuana use as introduced. The details regarding the laws of marijuana within each state will also be handled in this paper so that it is clearly known what the states allow and what they do not allow.

According to the health and safety laws that were introduced way back in 1996, the following were the recommendations and statutes of the law:

The code of safety under section 11362.5 allowed for the seriously ill patients to use marijuana for the purpose of getting relief from the illness that they were suffering from. The use of such a drug would be allowed by the law if it were only under the approval if a medical practitioner. Such a move would also be allowed by the law if the practitioner deemed it necessary for the patient to use the drug for the purpose of improving their health conditions. The diseases that are mostly treated by consuming marijuana include cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, migraine, arthritis among other diseases.

The laws also stated that the marijuana users as well as their primary caregivers who use the drugs only upon the receipt of a medical direction from a physician are protected from prosecution. Additionally, the laws also protect the users of marijuana drug from being prosecuted since it is only used for medicinal purposes only.

The laws were also formed so that they could be used to offer encouragement to the federal government to come up with plans that could see the safe distribution of the drugs. The laws recognized the fact that the distribution process could have been a source of mayhem. The rogue users would have taken advantage and stared distributing the drug for other purposes different from the medical one. The laws also provided that the distribution and use of marijuana was solely meant for the purpose of helping the medically ill in their recovery process. In connection to that, the law is bound to be used in punishing those who use the drug for other purposes and in turn start causing mayhem and endangering the lives of others. Additionally, the laws clearly stated that there will be no condoning of any acts associated where the drugs are deviated for other use apart from medical use.

Apart from hat, the laws also clearly states that the physicians are bound to get protection from the state for prescribing the drug to their patients with a primary purpose of helping such patients. Therefore such physicians are immune from getting punished by law. Moreover, they are allowed under the provisions of law to enjoy their rights and privileges as physicians to give medicinal prescription to patients.
In section 11357 that relates to the issue of procession of marijuana, and the section 11358 that talks about the cultivation of the plant allows a patient to either be in procession or cultivate the plant. The laws stated above do not apply to patients who have either oral or written document obtain from their caregivers allowing them to be in procession of the drug. It however, must be noted that the procession or the cultivation of such a drug is only limited to the patient being in need of the drug for medical purposes only. The laws also goes ahead to give an explanation of the caregiver is. The law identifies the caregiver as the person who has the responsibility of providing housing and safety of the patients as they go through their medical therapy.

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Public support

According to a survey study that was conducted in May 2013 by Fox News revealed that the members of the public were for the idea of legalizing the use of marijuana for the adult patients. Moreover, the survey was able to show that 85% of the American population believed and trusted that the Government is in a position to give chances to the adult patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. However, most of those who were interviewed said that the use of the drug should e limited to the prescription that is provided by the physicians alone.
There are eleven states that went to the ballots to vote for the use of marijuana by patients. Those states where the citizens voted for the issue, the laws were put in place courtesy of the voting system. For instance on the state of Michigan, the citizens went to the ballot process and a whopping 63 % of the voters were for the idea of medical marijuana initiative. The percentage was considered to be very high since president Obama only managed to gather 57% of votes from that state during his presidential election.

In the year 2010, those who reside in the State of Arizona were able to overwhelmingly vote for the enactment of the marijuana law so that patients would be allowed to use it without being intimidated. The votes meant that the law had to be adopted and used for the governance purposes. As a result of that process, citizens in the Arizona state are now able to enjoy their freedom of using marijuana only in the scenario that the use is allowed by a medical caregiver. Apart from the Arizonians, the citizens residing in Massachusetts were also able to vote for the idea of inclusion of the marijuana law within the laws of the state. During the voting process, it was established that 63% of the voters were for the idea of the inclusion of the law while 37% of the voters were opposed to the idea. As a result of that, the majority won the poll and the use of marijuana was allowed in the State only for those patients who were recommended to do so by their medical professionals.  The percentage of the votes that cast for the use of marijuana in that state were also much high than what the president received during the elections where he only managed to gather 60 % of the votes.

Support from medical community

The laws on the use of marijuana by medical practitioners have been widely supported in America, not only from the citizens but also from other groups such as the medical institutions. One of the institutions that greatly supported and is still in support of the legislation is the institution of American college of Physicians as well as the Institute of Medicine. Additionally, the inclusion of the use of the drug has received wide support from the association of America’s public health workers in collaboration with the nurses association. Apart from those, the American academy that deals with the issue of HIV medicine is also one if the groups that have been in support of the introduction of the use of marijuana for patients (Vaida et al. 2009). There were also the leukaemia and the lymphoma societies that have also been on the forward lane to support the use of marijuana by patients for the sake of their health status. The American medical students’ association is also another group that has voiced its support from the introduction of the laws that allow the use of marijuana by patients. There are also other groups from the New York, California and Rhode Island that are also in support of the introduction of the use of marijuana by patients.

The medical association of Americans is one of the groups that support the use of marijuana by the patients. According to the group, they believe that there is need for the states to further do a research concerning the use of marijuana by the patients. Such advanced studies would be able to indicate both the advantages and disadvantages of using such a drug by the community. Moreover, the association is of the opinion that the patients should be allowed to have free exchange of ideas with their chosen caregivers. Such exchange of ideas should include the alternatives that can be adopted in the scenario that the use of marijuana is proved to be ineffective. Moreover, they believe that the discussions between the patients and their caregivers concerning use of marijuana and other alternative treatment processes should not be subjected to criminal sanctions.  To put their words in to action, the group came up with a unanimous decision in the year 2009 that would allow them to conduct further research on the drug. The group advocated for the reclassification of the drug by the government so that the organization would have the opportunity to do a fresh research on the drug to establish its real benefits to patients. Within the same year, there was a unanimous agreement and voting process that took place amongst the delegates from the medical association. The agreement was that the association needed to have a way of creating a distinction between the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and smoking it for fun as some of the youths do. The association therefore unanimously agreed that the smoked marijuana is dangerous to the health of humanity and is therefore not supposed to be used for medical purposes. The views of the members of the association were however met with resistance from the government’s side. From time immemorial, governments have always been opposed to the idea of allowing the use of marijuana in the country since most people ended up misusing it. Moreover, medical practitioners have in the past tried to persuade government authorities to allow them to conduct research on the medical importance of marijuana. However, every time the teams give their proposals to the state officials, their demands have always been declined. Furthermore, the authorities have in the past tried to hamper research done by medical officials in trying to establish the medical value of using marijuana. However, the doctors have also been resistant to the attempts of the government in trying to stop them from conducting such research work.

Apart from the push and pull between the states and the doctors, the “New England Journal of Medicine” conducted a survey back in the year 2013 amongst medical doctors and physicians. In the survey, they were able to make certain observations where a majority of the physicians were for the idea that the use of marijuana was of great importance to the patients. They physicians said that if they were given an opportunity to have a hypothetical case of marijuana, then they would argue for the use of the drug for patients since they have researched on its importance.

Support from religious communities and the press

The use of marijuana has not only received support from the medical field alone but also from the churches that believes in its importance. One of the churches that have been in support of the use of marijuana for patients is the United Methodist Church in America. Additionally, the Presbyterian Church is also in support of the use of the drug only for the purposes of treatment. The Episcopal Church is also in the category of the churches that have voiced their support for the use of the prohibited drug in the recent past.    Others that have also showed support for the use of the drug are the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the Union of Reform Judaism.

Members of the press community have also not been left behind in anchoring support for the use of marijuana by the medical experts in treating their patients. Some of the media houses that have showed support for the law include the Economist group. Additionally, there is the New York daily news that has also been vocal on the issue of giving support to the medical use of marijuana. Other media stations and newspapers include the Rocky Mountain News and the Pioneer Press. Other group that have also aired their concern and have showed support for the use of marijuana are the Roanoke Times and the Los Angeles times. All the above mentioned media houses have been very supportive for the concept of allowing medical practitioners prescribe the use of marijuana for their patients.

Alaska State

The use of the marijuana drug has its specification s prescribed differently in all the states where its use has been permitted. For instance, in Alaska State, its use first came into existence in the year 1998 when 58% of the citizens voted for the idea. The use of the drug however, came into effective use in March of the following year. The law stated that the patients who would be found either in procession or cultivation of the drug would be immune from arrest only if they had prescription from a physician. The documentation had to include details that show that the patient would have benefited from the use of the drug without getting serious side effects. Some of the diseases that were proposed to be treated using marijuana included cancer, epilepsy, cachexia and other disorders that were caused by seizures. Additionally, diseases such as Hiv/Aids and sclerosis could also be treated using marijuana since medical researchers had proven that it is possible (Vaida et al. 2009). Moreover, the law also stated that the drug could also be used by physicians in the treatment of any other conditions that are approved by the health department of Alaska.

In terms of the possession, the law permitted the patients and their caregivers to be in procession of marijuana but to a limited amount not exceeding one ounce. Additionally, the law also stated that the patients were at the liberty of cultivating the crop but only upto a limited amount not exceeding six plants. Anything more than six plants would then be considered to be illegal and the owner would thus be bound to face the law. Out of the six plantations, only three of them are allowed o be mature at any given point in time. In order to avoid confusion in identifying those who are legally allowed to be in procession of the drug, the state decided to issue ID cards. The issuance of the cards was only done based on the qualifications of the patients.  The state was also responsible for the creation of a registry that would then be used to maintain the records of the patients that qualify for receiving the drug. In case someone got arrested for being in possession of the drug then the authorities would make confirmations from the registries if indeed they have the authority to be in possession of the same.

Arizona State

In Arizona State, the marijuana act was passed into law in the year 2010 by a majority of voters amounting to 50.13%. Just like the case that was in Alaska, here too, a patient had to be get a letter permitting them to be in procession of the drug. The letter offering permission had to be one that originates from physician clearly explaining that the patient is suffering from a debilitating condition. Additionally, the letter had to indicate that the patients were most likely to get benefits from te use of the marijuana drug. The non-profit dispensaries were also put notice so that they would not issue any marijuana drug for patients who do not have written documents showing that they qualify to get the same.

Apart from that, the Arizona laws just like those that were in Alaska also required the department of health to maintain a registry of patients who qualify to be in procession of the drug. Moreover, the departments were expected to create new application systems so that those who wished to be included in the group could easily make their applications. Furthermore, the law enforcers were required to have a web based system that they could use to make verifications on the identification cards that are presented by the patients.  The laws also allowed for the certification of the dispensaries that were allowed to sell the products to the patients. The law stated that the number of certified dispensaries were not supposed to exceed 10% of the total number of dispensaries that existed within the state of Arizona. Therefore the empirical figure of the states that were allowed to dispense the drug was supposed to be around one hundred and twenty four in the entire state.

The law that was enacted then was also categorical on the categorization of the patients based on the fact that they had permission from their physicians. If the patients were registered then their use of marijuana was supposed to be considered as being the same to that of any other medication. The only thing that was required is for the patient to be under the direction of a physician. In such a case, the patient does not disqualify from getting medical attentions and other medical procedures such as organ transplant.

Strategy policy to enhance results of public policy environment

In America, the issue of young people using and abusing drugs is not a new phenomenon. Moreover, the issue has been labelled as one of the public health problems that pose challenges to the economic empowerment of the young people. Additionally, it is one of the issues that have greatly contributed to the high levels of mortality as well as morbidity within the United States. There have been a number of researches that have been carried on how to carry out sensitization and education of the youth on how to stop substance abuse. Out of the research works that have been carried out globally, there are a number of solutions that have emerged. The solutions have enabled the experts have an idea on coming up with an appropriate program that can be used to prevent drugs abuse. Additionally, the approaches will also be useful in addressing the treatment part so that those who escape the prevention part can get treated in the next stage.

Substance use and abuse continue to be important public health problems that contribute greatly to morbidity and mortality rates throughout the United States, Canada, and globally.

One of the substances that most young people tend to abuse is marijuana. The patterns of abuse of the drug keep on varying from one group of individuals to the other. There are those who abuse the drug for almost their entire life without maybe getting a solution to their problem. On the other hand, there are those who spend their lifetime without even having problems with drugs.

The use of marijuana for treatment purposes will definitely put the health department and institutions in jeopardy, considering that the drug is an illegal drug. The problem will be made difficult to handle considering the fact that most of those who abuse the drug are young adolescents. Most of those who abuse the drug continue with the business way into their adulthood. It will therefore be important for the authorities to address the issue of drug abuse from young age all through to the adulthood.  The adolescents are supposed to be taken through seminars were they are taught on the negatives of using marijuana drug.  The adults are also supposed to be taken through lessons so that they know the hazards of using the drug. Additionally, there should be adverts on the dailies where the effects of drugs abuse are highlighted so that people can get sensitized.

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