Applied Evidence

Medical Cannabis: A guide to the clinical and legal landscapes

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The bill was referred to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees but, ultimately, the STATES Act was blocked from debate in 2018.

On April 4, 2019, the Act was reintroduced in the House (H.R. 2093) and Senate (S. 1028) of the 116th Congress. Although there is bipartisan support for this bill, the timeline for moving it forward is unclear.16,17

At the state level. Thirty-four states have comprehensive public medical marijuana and Cannabis programs. The National Conference of State Legislatures18 ( designates a program “comprehensive” if it

  • includes protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose,
  • allows access to marijuana through home cultivation, dispensaries, or other system,
  • permits a variety of strains, including those more potent than what is labeled “low-THC,” and
  • allows smoking or vaporization of marijuana products, plant-based material, or extract.

An additional 14 states allow for “low-THC, high-CBD” products for medical reasons, in limited situations, or as a legal defense. Regulation in these states varies widely, however: Some states allow industrialized hemp products only; others do not provide for any in-state production.18

Last, many states have some form of so-called “affirmative-defense” statutes that allow people charged with marijuana possession to mention use of marijuana for medical purposes as a possible defense.

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