Marijuana Legalized in Several More States

By Ellen Lenox Smith, Columnist

As we ponder the results of the presidential election, let’s not forget to celebrate the success throughout the country in increasing the number of states allowing access to medical and recreational marijuana.

Congratulations to voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas for approving medical marijuana and providing a choice for patients to turn to. Also, Montana succeeded in expanding its medical marijuana program to include post-traumatic stress as a qualifying medical condition, along with raising the limit on the number of patients a doctor can certify from 3 to 25.

We are so happy for patients in these states! It will take time for them to get their programs up and running. Patience will be needed, but at least they are now on the right road. It will involve years of tweaking the program as patients learn to navigate the system.

Voters in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine also approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. A recreational ballot proposal in Arizona was defeated.

It is very important that we keep and improve the integrity of medical marijuana programs as states expand into recreational use. This will become a big money maker for states and I assume the movement will grow fairly quickly as more states realize they can make billions of dollars in tax revenue.

I have always felt that recreational use was not our battle, preferring instead to focus on patients having access to medical marijuana. I appreciate that some want marijuana for use socially, but there are many of us struggling to live life with more dignity, which the use of medical marijuana provides for us. All citizens in the United States deserve the same rights and we are now over halfway there.

Our dream is for all people in this country to have medical marijuana as a choice. All deserve proper education on its use, a variety of strains to accommodate their various needs, patients and caregivers should be allowed to grow their own plants, and marijuana should be available at compassion centers or dispensaries at affordable prices. Also, we look forward to more consistency in qualifying medical conditions, which vary widely from state to state.

If you are in need of advocating in your state to improve your program or to try to get legislation to move forward, feel free to be in touch.

Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis. Ellen and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

For more information about medical marijuana, visit their website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.