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Since California created the first medical marijuana program in the United States in 1996, 22 other states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana as well. With eight more states pending legalization, it’s important to take a closer look at the medical marijuana programs and see what they’re providing. The fact that half of the country has medical marijuana programs says a lot about public opinion changing, but are these programs actually helping the patients?

Texas

Texas

Just recently, Texas passed a bill that allows patients with severe forms of epilepsy to be treated with cannabis oils high in CBD and low in THC. Over 12 other states have legalized cannabis with low/no THC levels and high CBD levels for people who have persistent and severe seizures. This method of cannabis legalization has lead to problems for patients like not having safe access to their medicine because of strict or complicated state regulations. Texas has a chance to prove to its residents that legalized medical cannabis can work properly and be beneficial. If Texas demonstrates this, hopefully they will expand their program to have more qualifying conditions and accept more patients.

Texas’ Qualifying Conditions:

  • Severe Epilepsy

New Hampshire

NewHampshire

New Hampshire approved legislation in 2013 allowing residents with five qualifying medical conditions to use cannabis purchased from one of the four state-licensed dispensaries. The state hasn’t opened a dispensary yet and has no process for residents to apply for the medical marijuana program. New Hampshire residents are still banned from home cultivation so there hasn’t been much progress just yet.

New Hampshire’s Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Pancreatitis
  • Spinal Cord Injury or Disease
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

New Jersey

NewJersey

New Jersey legalized a medical marijuana program in early 2010 but because of Gov. Chris Christie’s pushback to the legislation the first dispensary didn’t open until 2013. The state allows six dispensaries with only three currently running. New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has nine qualifying conditions for applying residents and doesn’t allow home cultivation.

New Jersey’s Qualifying Conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe/Chronic Pain
  • Severe Nausea
  • Cachexia
  • Wasting Syndrome caused by HIV, AIDS, or Cancer
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Terminal Cancer
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Terminal Illness- if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life or any other medical condition or its treatment that is approved by the Department of Health and Senior Services

Delaware

Delaware

Back in 2011, Delaware approved a medical marijuana program to allow one dispensary per county to residents with one of eleven qualifying medical conditions. Patients are still waiting for the first dispensary to open due to Gov. Jack Markell suspending the program for years. This program also does not allow home cultivation by approved patients.

Delaware’s Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • PTSD when it produces physical pain

Georgia

On July 24th, 2015, WSB TV informed the public that only 54 patients have been legally registered for Georgia’s medical marijuana program- “Low THC Medical Cannabis.” Although many doctors are refusing to participate in the program, around 100 have signed up. The program allows medical cannabis with less than 5% THC for qualifying conditions. Any progress is great progress, but the patients of Georgia who still do not have access to their medication hope that this progress begins to unfold more quickly than it has so far.

Georgia’s Qualifying Conditions:

  • Seizure disorders
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Mitochondrial Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Illinois

In 2013, Illinois passed legislation for their first medical marijuana program which accepts over 40 medical conditions from applying patients. The state does not allow home cultivation and hasn’t opened a single dispensary yet, not leaving patients with many options. It’s great to see an inclusive list with over 10 qualifying medical conditions, but is problematic when patients with those conditions still can’t access the medication they need.

Illinois’ Qualifying Conditions:

Minnesota

Minnesota

Minnesota just started their medical marijuana program back in 2014 with dispensaries opening soon. The approved program only allows eight dispensaries in the state and accepts nine qualifying conditions. Patients are not permitted to grow at home or possess “smokeable marijuana”. This means only extracts like hash oils and pills are allowed. As one of the strictest medical marijuana programs, it gives hope for expansion if done right.

Minnesota’s Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer- if it causes chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, cachexia, or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • ALS
  • Epilepsy
  • Severe & Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy less than 1 year

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

After approving a medical marijuana program in 2012, Massachusetts has not opened a single dispensary in the state. With a short list of only nine qualifying conditions for patients the program allows patients with a financial hardship to register for home cultivation. Thanks to overcomplicated licensing procedures the program hasn’t had the opportunity to show the state that medical marijuana can be positive.

Massachusetts’ Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Sources: ProCon.org & Georgia Care Project

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