Marijuana is the most-widely used illicit drug in the United States and among the most controversial. Federal and state governments are grappling with the potential medical benefits and public health risks associated with marijuana use, which is reflected in its inconsistent treatment under the law. The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning the drug has a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical use, and may not be dispensed under a prescription. Federal law also criminalizes the manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana in any form or quantity. Yet, at least 25 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting the medicinal use of marijuana in limited circumstances. While federal law does not invalidate state medical marijuana laws, federal enforcement agencies may continue to enforce the CSA in jurisdictions with medical marijuana programs; though, the U.S. Department of Justice has instructed federal prosecutors not to pursue legal challenges against states authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
Despite the drug’s Schedule I status under federal law, state medical marijuana programs have developed rapidly. Today, more than half of all states permit some form of medical marijuana use, and the majority of these laws were enacted within the past decade. As a result, state and local governments and health agencies are largely playing catch-up to determine the scope of these new laws as well as their impact on public health.
This table provides a summary of the provisions regulating the use of medical marijuana in each state and the District of Columbia that has enacted a medical marijuana program. The topics covered include: (1) qualifying health conditions; (2) age restrictions; (3) health insurance reimbursement requirements; (4) custodial restrictions for qualified individuals; (5) driving restrictions; (6) employment protections; (7) housing restrictions; and (8) public indoor and outdoor use restrictions.
See related resource: Medical Marijuana – State Regulatory Statutes Governing Distribution and Consumption survey