In the U.S. no two states have medical marijuana laws that are exactly alike. According to a new study conducted by Temple University researchers, marijuana’s schedule I status has created a“regulatory vacuum.” Marijuana being classified as a schedule I drug means that it has no accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. Maybe if you live under a rock you would believe these to be true, but I can promise you the research says otherwise.
“If we’re serious about marijuana as a therapy, as a drug, if we mean it’s medicine, then we need to do research on it. We need to do trials,” said Scott Burris, director of Temple’s Center for Public Health Law Research. “Until the federal government drops it from Schedule I, we’re going to be (researching) this with our scientific and regulatory hands tied behind our back.”
The study that Burris and other researchers conducted explains in detail the varying approaches in critical aspects of regulations such as qualifying conditions, patient registration, privacy and civil rights concerns, testing, permitting and labeling.
Their study, “Mapping medical marijuana,” was published Tuesday in the journal Addiction. The study analyzed the medical marijuana laws in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
The researchers found that out of the 27 states:
- 27 specify qualifying diseases, which vary
- 26 protect patient privacy
- 18 have mandatory product safety testing
- 14 have protections in place to prevent discrimination
- Eight prohibit use in parks
- Five prohibit use on beaches
- One (Montana) bans use at places of worship
“In this new area of health policy, states are again serving as ‘laboratories of democracy,’ but scientists evaluating these laws (have) focused on spillover effects of (medical marijuana) on recreational use and its harms, rather than on the ability of states to effectively regulate marijuana as a medicine,” researchers wrote. “There is tremendous interest in understanding the impact of these laws on the community.”
It is important for marijuana to be unclassified as a Schedule I drug for more researchers to be able to study the drug and have uniform regulations for it across the states. If rescheduled marijuana could be integrated into the standard controlled substances and pharmaceutical regulatory framework. This would allow the states to safely use and distribute a new pharmaceutical product, otherwise known as marijuana.
Burris also adds “It’s safe to say we’re going to be in a period of negotiation” in regards to state laws and new federal approaches emerging. “Negotiation is fine. Just putting our heads in the sand is bad.”