How Many States Have Medical Cannabis?


Cannabis has become widely accepted across the USA, with states passing legislation that legalizes its use, recreationally or medically, left and right. As of 2021, thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis. Meanwhile, eighteen states and Washington D.C. allow citizens to use cannabis recreationally.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to plant-based medicine derived from cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and its derivatives. They’re used to relieve the symptoms of certain medical conditions. These include:

● Epilepsy and seizures

● Alzheimer’s disease

● Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)


● Cancer

● Crohn’s disease

● Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms

● Glaucoma

● Anxiety, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

● Severe and chronic pain

● Severe nausea

In many cases, medical cannabis works as effectively as—or even better than—conventional medicines. Doctors also prescribe it to relieve side effects from other treatments.

What’s In Medical Cannabis?

Of 480 naturally occurring chemicals,cannabis produces eighty to one hundred cannabinoids or chemical substances that interact with specific cannabinoid receptors. These receptors can be found throughout the brain and body, with the purpose of regulating how cells communicate.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main cannabinoids that have therapeutic benefits.

THC is the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, responsible for the “high” a user feels. Apart from feelings of euphoria or relaxation, THC is also an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It also helps prevent and reduce vomiting.

On the other hand, CBD is an anti-psychoactive chemical that moderates the effects of THC, such as anxiety. It might be able to treat psychotic disorders, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and some tumors. CBD is prominent in cannabis sativa, which has stimulating effects such as boosted energy. There is also a link between sativa and focus.

Classification Of Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis generally comes in three types:

● Pharmaceutical cannabis, approved by drug administrations or medical organizations for prescription and use

● Controlled and standardized cannabis (like the ones available in the Netherlands) which are regulated by relevant bodies and sometimes sold commercially for recreation

● Unregulated cannabis which is often illegal and may contain unknown concentrations of cannabinoids and harmful bacteria

States That Allow Medical Cannabis

There are thirty-six states (plus the District of Columbia) that have passed legislation to allow the medical use of cannabis. These are:

● Alabama

● Alaska

● Arizona

● Arkansas

● California

● Colorado

● Connecticut

● Delaware

● District of Columbia

● Florida

● Hawaii

● Illinois

● Louisiana

● Maine

● Maryland

● Massachusetts

● Michigan

● Minnesota

● Missouri

● Montana

● Nevada

● New Hampshire

● New Jersey

● New Mexico

● New York

● North Dakota

● Ohio

● Oklahoma

● Oregon

● Pennsylvania

● Rhode Island

● South Dakota

● Utah

● Vermont

● Virginia

● Washington

● West Virginia

Medical cannabis is only allowed under certain conditions, and its prescription, procurement, and use are regulated by rules that differ between states. So, if you don’t pay attention to local laws, THC or CBD on a drug test can still get you into trouble.

Is Medical Cannabis Federally Legal?

Although medical cannabis is legal in more than half of the United States, using it both medically and recreationally is still illegal federally. The federal government classifies it as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside heroin and cocaine, stating that it has a high potential for abuse and little to no medical benefit.

This limitation has primarily prevented further research of cannabis and its potential medical properties.

How To Use Or Consume Medical Cannabis Legally

Medical cannabis can take on many forms, such as:

● Pills

● Topical applications

● Oral solutions

● Edibles (or food)

● Oil (for vaporizers)

● Dried herbs and leaves

The rules on how to use or consume these products legally depend on the state you’re in. In some states, you can easily get them at a local dispensary. In others, you’ll have to obtain a prescription from a doctor—which is only possible if you have a medical condition that’s been pre-approved to use medical cannabis as treatment. All that said, it’s important to know the specific rules in your state before you start looking for, buying, and using medical cannabis. While you’re at it, if you’re using medical cannabis in the form of dried herbs and leaves, check on the legality of dry herb vaporizers in your local area to see if you’re allowed to turn that herb into vapor.

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