Disclaimer: This article is intended to be exclusively educational. “The Medical Bag,” PDI, or any of its affiliates neither condones nor condemns the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The current US legal landscape surrounding “medical marijuana” is complex, confusing, and ambiguous. In 1972, the United States Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) because they considered it to have a high potential for abuse… have no currently accepted medical use in treatment… and because there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.
Since then, 17 states as well as the capital of the US, have passed laws eliminating criminal penalties for using marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Colombia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.
Surprisingly, there are no legal state supply sources from which a patient could attain the drug. What’s more, doctors in these states may not legally prescribe marijuana without violating federal law because of its Schedule I status, which criminalizes the acts of prescribing, dispensing, and possessing marijuana for any purpose. Federal policy dictates that physicians who prescribes marijuana or other Schedule I drugs to a patient may be stripped of his or her federal license to prescribe drugs and be prosecuted.
However, on September 7, 2000, U.S. District Judge William Alsip ruled in Conant v. McCaffrey that federal authorities may not sanction doctors who recommend marijuana to patients. So, in lieu of a prescription, a physician can write a recommendation for a patient to obtain marijuana for medical reasons in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The allowable dosage (typically, so many ounces are recommended per month) varies and is determined by each individual state.