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Click on the map to see state specific details and clickable links to dedicated pages.
- Residency Requirement:
All states require proof of residency to apply to be qualifying patients, although the length of time considered to be a resident varies by state.
- Home Cultivation:
, Director of State Policies for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), stated the following in a June 8, 2016 email to ProCon.org:
“Some or all patients and/or their caregivers can cultivate in 15 of the 25 states. Home cultivation is not allowed in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania or the District of Columbia and a special license is required in New Mexico. In Arizona, patients can only cultivate if they lived 25 miles or more from a dispensary when they applied for their card. In Massachusetts, patients can only cultivate if they have a hardship waiver. In Nevada, patients can cultivate if they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, if they are not able to reasonably travel to a dispensary, or if no dispensaries in the patients’ counties are able to supply the strains they need.”
- Patient Registration:
, Director of State Policies for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), stated the following in a June 13, 2016 email to ProCon.org:
“Affirmative defenses, which protect from conviction but not arrest, are or may be available in several states even if the patient doesn’t have an ID card: Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island, in some circumstances, Delaware and Ohio. Hawaii also has a separate ‘choice of evils’ defense. Patient ID cards are voluntary in Maine, California, and Washington but in California and Washington they offer the strongest legal protection. In Delaware, the defense is only available between when a patient submits a valid application and receives their ID card. In Ohio, the defense is only available once the law goes into effect on September 6 until 60 days after the state begins accepting patients’ applications.
The states with no protection unless the patient is registered are: Alaska (however, any adult 21 and older may possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana), Arizona, Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, probably Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Washington, D.C. also requires registration.”
- Louisiana’s Law
In Louisiana, SB 271 was introduced in 2016 to amend a 2015 law that failed to legalize medical marijuana because it said that doctors could “prescribe” medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal law. The new bill changed the wording to “recommend,” which is legal, but did not contain any protections from prosecution for patients, growers, or distributors. SB 180 was created to close that loophole, but only offered protections for patients who lawfully possess medical marijuana; as a result, the bills did not legalize distribution or cultivation, meaning patients cannot get legal access to marijuana. In addition, draft regulations would require doctors in Louisiana to list dosage amounts with their recommendations, which may put physicians at risk of violating federal drug laws. For these reasons and others, neither the Marijuana Policy Project nor the National Council of State Legislatures has classified Louisiana as a state with a legal medical marijuana program. This may change depending on how the situation develops in the state.
- US Attourney on State’s Rights:
Several states with legal medical marijuana received letters from their respective United States Attorney’s offices explaining that marijuana is a Schedule I substance and that the federal government considers growing, distribution, or possession of marijuana to be a federal crime regardless of the state laws. An Aug. 29, 2013 Department of Justice memo clarified the government’s prosecutorial priorities and stated that the federal government would rely on state and local law enforcement to “address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws.”
- Symbolic Laws:
Between Mar. 27, 1979 and July 23, 1991, five US states enacted laws that legalized medical marijuana with a physician’s prescription, however, those laws are considered symbolic because federal law prohibits physicians from “prescribing” marijuana, a schedule I drug.
The five states were Virginia (Mar. 27, 1979), New Hampshire (Apr. 23, 1981), Connecticut (July 1, 1981), Wisconsin (Apr. 20, 1988), and Louisiana (July 23, 1991).On June 29, 2015, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed SB 143 into law, which states: “[A] physician licensed to practice medicine in this state may prescribe, in any form… except inhalation, and raw or crude marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols… for therapeutic use by patients clinically diagnosed as suffering from glaucoma, symptoms resulting from the administration of chemotherapy cancer treatment, and spastic quadriplegia.” The law does not make Louisiana a legal medical marijuana state because the law uses the word “prescribe” and federal law prohibits physicians from prescribing marijuana, a schedule I substance. States that have legalized medical marijuana use the word “recommend.” Louisiana may try to address this issue in the process of determining regulations.
Louisiana Sen. Fred Mills, Jr. (R), sponsor of SB 143, stated the following in a July 1, 2015 email to ProCon.org: “I would like to thank everyone who worked on the passage of SB 143 and Governor Bobby Jindal for signing this important legislation. The next step in this process will be in the rule making arena. Every day I receive calls from families in Louisiana requesting Medical Marijuana. We have more work to do and I look forward to that day.”