For Most of Us, the Trade-Off Are Worth It
Read the article I wrote for Tonic, VICE’s health verticle. READ: Don’t Be Jealous Of My Marijuana Prescription
You have to be severely ill or seriously injured to qualify for medical marijuana. Plus, it’s extremely expensive.
As if disability and finances aren’t challenging enough, the conflicts between the federal and state laws mean medical marijuana patient rights are violated frequently and that’s part of life as a pot patient.
Rights Medical Marijuana Patients Give Up
Unlawful Search & Seizure
In NJ, MMJ patient status affects your fourth amendment right. The State of NJ says the smell of marijuana is enough to warrant a search. Unfortunately, if you’re a patient, there’s a good chance you will smell like cannabis, even you’re not breaking the law. That doesn’t matter, the police are free to search patients whenever they feel like it.
Marijuana laws vary from state-to-state. Here’s the 44-page document detailing the CUMMA Guidelines, or how police officers are supposed to handle medical marijuana in NJ. The problem is, the guidelines are NOT straightforward and raise as many questions as answers.
Unlawful seizure of legal medication is occurring. Patients are having their medicine withheld by police officers and hospitals because the Attorney General’s office hasn’t effectively educated our police force about law changes or the rights of patients.
READ: Kief Cookies are the easiest edible to make.
Right to Own a Gun
There’s some controversy surrounding this topic, but ultimately, it comes down to federal law. The government still considers pot an “unlawful drug”.
It doesn’t matter that patients are law-abiding citizens in legal states. We’re still labeled “unlawful drug users” and therefore cannot own firearms.
Bye, bye 2nd amendment. But here are 10 other deadly weapons we can legally buy on Amazon.
Patients are supposed to be protected under NJ law, but there’s conflict. It goes back to that same pesky issue of the federal government deeming law-abiding patients as “unlawful drug users”.
Employers are still discriminating against patients in the name of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. So far, no case of termination has gone to court, they’ve all been settled prior.
Employers are discriminating. If you are discriminated against because you are a marijuana patient status, please pursue a lawsuit.
READ: This is the most important thing to tell your kids about cannabis.
Freedom to Travel
You cannot bring medical marijuana out of the state. Not by car, not by plane, not by boat, not by train – Just carrying your medicine into another state could result in prosecution.
In most other places you can’t purchase your medication. The only state with dispensaries selling to out of state patients is NV. Medical marijuana patients from any state can use NV’s dispensaries.
Ability to Drive in Some States
Even when a patient isn’t using, they most likely will still have THC in their blood. In seven states, ANY amount of THC in the blood can result in the driver being prosecuted for a DUID. It doesn’t matter that the presence of THC does NOT indicate intoxication.
MMJ patients & recreational users take big risks when they drive in many states. Even when NOT intoxicated. It can take weeks for the body to completely excrete the metabolites of cannabis.
Read: Science explains how marijuana treats PTSD
Access to Medical Care
In some states, using medical marijuana has resulted in patients being refused medical care.
Patients have been denied access to medications (especially opiates) and pain clinics. In some states, dying patients are refused life-saving organ transplants.
Also, hospitals do not allow medical marijuana use which means any patient who must go to the hospital is forced onto prescription medications.
Marijuana and cancer: Read the 10 Research-Backed Ways Cannabis Can Help Fight Cancer
Medical marijuana patients trade rights for medication, but many of us have no other options. The good news is that many patients consider the trade-offs are worth it because medical marijuana is an incredible medication.