California legalized the use of medical marijuana over a decade ago, and since then 18 states and the District of Columbia have followed suit. State medical marijuana laws differ in the political processes for enactment (state legislature vs. ballot-initiative); statutory protections from criminal sanctions; and drug access (e.g., no legalized access, state regulated dispensaries, home cultivation, or access through designated caregivers). Public health officials are concerned with a variety of unanticipated legal and ethical consequences of the laws, including problems with operating statewide registry and licensing programs, unregulated marijuana dispensaries, lack of employment or disability protection for medical marijuana users, and inappropriate physician recommendations for medical marijuana use. Over time, states have developed new regulations, policies, and amended laws to resolve some problems. Other issues, such as lack of disability protection, cannot be resolved due conflicting federal drug laws, and remain serious barriers for patients.
This webinar will address implementation issues and unanticipated legal, ethical and public health problems with various state medical marijuana laws; provide insights and information about ways state public health officials and attorneys have addressed problems; and provide guidance for states considering medical marijuana legislation or states with existing laws that may be dealing with similar issues. Panelists for this webinar represent state governments and non-profit organizations that have experienced unanticipated public health consequences of legalizing marijuana.