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The Different Legalities of Medical Marijuana

Thursday, January 18th, 2018
legalized marijuana

Whether you suffer from epilepsy, PTSD or are undergoing chemotherapy, the reasons to use medically prescribed marijuana are many. Not only can it address many conditions often seen as untreatable or highly difficult to treat — like some variants of childhood epilepsy — it can also offer benefits for sufferers of illnesses whose standard medical route is fraught with hefty side effects. Because laws on marijuana vary wildly from state to state, the path to treatment isn’t always the same. It might be tempting to pack up and move to Colorado for unfettered access, (the mountains! The skiing! Arts and culture! All those craft breweries!) but before you do, familiarize yourself with the laws in your state to see if you can access marijuana at home.




A handful of states, like Colorado, California, Alaska and Massachusetts, have completely legalized weed for both recreational and medicinal use. These states do have limits on how much you can possess both inside and outside your house. For example, in Colorado you can carry up to 1 oz., while in Maine you can carry up to 2.5 oz. States that have legalized it also allow you to grow your own plants, though most prohibit owners from growing more than six (and some states put restrictions on how many can be fully mature at the same time).


Medical Use Only


Most states that have not fully legalized marijuana for recreational use have provisions for medical use, though those provisions range from prescription only to highly prohibitive. In Texas, regulations for medical marijuana are extremely strict. Like many states, Texas only permits CBD, an oil with a low THC content, providing the medicinal use without the high. But Texas only allows a handful of doctors to prescribe CBD, and dispensaries are hard to find. Additionally, growers pay the highest fee in the country: $500,000. Criminal possession in Texas often involves jail time. The same is true for Tennessee, Indiana and Alabama.




In Idaho, marijuana is entirely illegal, even for medical use. Idaho has some of the harshest laws for marijuana use in the country — sale is a felony, and possession over 3 oz. is sentenceable for up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Likewise, marijuana is still criminalized in Kansas and South Dakota, which carries sentences up to one year.


Travel Between States


Despite legislation across the country relaxing or legalizing weed, moving between states while in possession is still tricky business. A prescription in one state may not mean as much in a state with stricter laws — San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, for example, was arrested for possession while traveling to his home state of Washington in 2009 because Washington’s laws did not recognize his prescription at the time. In addition to being charged for an illegal substance, trafficking is an aggravated charge which carries more jail time.


While states across the nation are legalizing cannabis more and more, those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes (and enthusiasts as well) need to arm themselves with knowledge of the law to use safely and without fear of legal retribution.

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