ImpacTeen Research Papers
State Medical Marijuana Laws:
Understanding the Laws and their Limitations
Pacula RL, Chriqui JF, Reichmann DA, and Terry-McElrath YM.
Since the 1970’s, numerous states have had medical marijuana laws. However, public policy makers, activists and the media have given significant attention to the debate regarding allowances for medical marijuana use since the 1996 California and Arizona ballot initiatives. Much of this on-going debate stems from confusion about the various ways states approach the issues. In this paper, we present original legal research on current state medical marijuana laws, identifying four different ways states statutorily enable the medical use of marijuana. Only one of these approaches (therapeutic research programs) is consistent with federal law. We discuss the implications of the other approaches in terms of tensions with federal statutes, and how the choice of statutory approach has important implications regarding patient impact. We utilize a three-dimensional policy framework for this effort, including provision type, illness/symptoms covered, and how patients can get marijuana (an important aspect of the medical provision of marijuana that is missing from the vast majority of current state laws). Additionally, we discuss the implication of various supply approaches on the enforcement of other state marijuana laws.
Research Paper (PDF – 195KB)