Now that 20 states and DC have medical marijuana laws, it is interesting to compare the laws from state-to-state. One thing you’ll find is that some conditions are almost universally approved of for medical marijuana treatment, while others are nearly forgotten about.
Take cancer, glaucoma, and HIV/AIDS. If you are unfortunate to suffer any of these diseases, you can qualify for exemption from criminal prosecution for your use of marijuana in almost every medical marijuana state. Almost. In New Jersey, you have to have “terminal cancer” -- no medical marijuana for you patients with just plain old inconvenient cancer. No pot for you HIV/AIDS patients in New Jersey, either. In Montana, you can get marijuana only if your HIV/AIDS “severely affects” your health status. In Nevada, HIV positive status won’t do it; you need to wait for it to develop into AIDS. If you have glaucoma in Vermont or Delaware, you’re out of luck.
What if you have something obscure, like nail patella syndrome? You’re only specifically covered in Michigan and Maine, though you may qualify under pain conditions in other states. Suffering from decompensated cirrhosis of the liver? You’d better hope you’re in Delaware or that pain definitions in other states will cover you. Returning from war in Afghanistan and suffer from post-traumatic stress? Only Oregon, New Mexico, Delaware and Connecticut will protect you.
What about pain, nausea, seizures and spasms? That depends. Some of the earlier medical marijuana states, like Colorado, will accept “severe pain,” but in Maine it needs to be “chronic intractable pain,” and in Illinois it needs to be “severe pain that doesn’t respond to other treatments or surgery.” Alaska is fine with covering your “nausea,” but in New Mexico it has to be “intractable nausea.” “Seizures, like those characterized by epilepsy” covers most seizure patients in most states, but in New Mexico, only epilepsy is allowed. “Spasticity” is all-inclusive in Nevada, but in Massachusetts it must be multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease, specifically.
Then there’s California, an example unto itself, where a doctor can recommend medical marijuana for any condition he or she believes it will help. So doctors can and do write recommendations for anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, fatigue, general aches and pains, as well as every one of the 60 conditions spelled out in the other 20 medical marijuana laws. Meanwhile, Kentucky, Georgia and Utah are on the verge of passing laws only allowing the use of high-CBD/low-THC cannabis oil, only for intractable seizures, and only if patients break Colorado and federal law by importing it.
Other silliness abounds. In Oregon, a patient needs a pound and a half to get by, but in Vermont they must make do with two ounces. Half the states let patients grow their own medicine, the other half do not or restrict it severely. Only Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, and Nevada will recognize another state’s card or recommendation. Only Oregon will allow non-residents to get a recommendation. Some states count all plants, some differentiate between seedlings and plants, some consider seedlings “mature” when they’ve exceeded 12 inches height, some don’t allow minors, some do but limit them to edible forms of marijuana, some ban certain edible forms of marijuana, and all these states but Washington and Colorado persist in the delusion that some marijuana smokers are healthy enough to deserve punishment for their use, while sick and disabled ones who get a doctor’s note and, in most cases, pay state protection money, are exempted from cuffs and cages.
These radical differences in medical marijuana laws state to state don’t owe to any science or medical reasoning. There’s no logical reason cannabis won’t help a PTSD sufferer in Hawaii like it will in New Mexico. There’s no meaningful data showing why growing marijuana plants is more dangerous in Connecticut than it is in Michigan. The only reason for these differences is political and it is based on the need to continue punishing healthy marijuana smokers who choose to use it for fun. Only when we are all fighting together for the end of marijuana prohibition for all adults are we truly fighting for all the patients medical marijuana can help.