The legalization of marijuana is a political issue many have an opinion on. Should it be legal? If so, for whom? Currently, there are 25 states and DC that have legalized marijuana for medical use. The benefits these patients are receiving are unbelievable, however, the hurdles they must jump through are outrageous.
First off let me start with the social stigma of smoking marijuana, or its common nickname "weed". For my generation, millennials, people who smoke weed are generally not frowned upon. Sure, I myself choose not to smoke and I don't associate with people who do, however, I don't think any lesser of someone who smokes it. The opposite is true for our older generations. In their eyes, they grew up being told weed is the "devil's grass" and how terrible it is.
It's hard to change someone's opinion, it just is. It's extremely hard if they've gone 60+ years with the same viewpoint. A major struggle that medical marijuana patients must overcome is the negative social stigma many American's believe.
To make matters worse, they are under constant attack due to the fact marijuana is not legal on the federal level. Currently, there is a federal law that protects medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal. Sadly, that law is expiring in September, three weeks to be exact. This law prevents the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with other agencies from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. This bill must be renewed annually, by September 30th, and currently, congress has no desire to add it to their agenda.
Not only does this law prevent the federal government the ability to stop allowing states to pass their own marijuana laws, it also prevents them from going after users complying with their state's law.
On top of that, medical patients are now being told they can not buy guns. Last week, an appeals court in Nevada ruled that prohibiting medical marijuana patients from gun ownership does not violate their Second Amendment rights.
Their reasoning is that: "marijuana has been linked to 'irrational or unpredictable behavior'". According to federal law, gun purchases are prohibited to anyone under an uncontrolled substance or who is considered an addict.
Marijuana users are required to answer 'yes' to the background check question "are you a user of, or addicted to a substance". A 'yes' answer means the person selling the gun can not finish the transaction. If a patient chooses to lie and say 'no', however, they could be punished with a felony and up to five years in prison.
Traveling as a medical marijuana patient is nearly impossible. Not every state will accept your home state's medical card. If traveling out of state, the patient must do intensive research to learn the laws of the state they are traveling to and whether their medical card will be accepted.
Trying to fly somewhere? Don't even think about it since marijuana is still considered a dangerous drug in federal eyes. The only way to travel with medical marijuana is with a car, and you must be driving through a state where they allow medical use.
Where can I medicate? In many states where medical marijuana is legal, it's stated that marijuana can only be consumed or smoked on private property. This causes problems when traveling even within the patient's home state. If they're staying in a hotel, where can they medicate? Do they awkwardly ask the hotel owner if it's ok to medicate on their property? Well, now they have to deal with the negative social stigma again.
It's expensive! Yes, at most marijuana dispensaries there is a discount for medical patients, however, it is still expensive. An ounce of marijuana can cost anywhere between $200-$400. For some, an ounce may last a week. For others, it may last three to four weeks. This doesn't include the initial start up costs that are required in order to purchase the equipment and products required to smoke marijuana in a healthy and safe way.
I must mention, for some patients marijuana is actually a cheaper alternative. When we consider the hundreds or thousands of dollars some prescriptions add up to, marijuana is the way to go.
The long waitlist . Many medical-legal states require a patient to meet with a state doctor at a marijuana clinic in order to gain a medical card. The problem is that the waitlist to see these doctors can be a month to a year. There's simply not enough doctors willing to meet with marijuana patients.
Medical marijuana can be a miracle drug to users who truly suffer from disabling pain, nausea, Epilepsy, Cancer, and many other diseases. It's important to understand that many users did not choose the "marijuana life", they are forced to. They've often tried every prescription drug and treatment currently available and have yet to find relief. Marijuana is the last resort for many medical patients. They should not be frowned upon, treated poorly, or have basic rights stolen from them. Marijuana is a life-saving medicine. Marijuana is our future.