Election Day was an exciting night for citizens hoping for legal access to medical cannabis. Both Missouri and Utah joined the list of states with medical cannabis programs, bringing the total of states with medical programs to 33, plus Washington, D.C.
Nine states now have recreational access: Michigan was among the states to approve recreational cannabis as part of the midterm elections, and while a recreational proposal in North Dakota did not pass, medical cannabis remains legal there. Finally, Wisconsin voters in 16 counties approved several advisory measures relating to cannabis, including measures to legalize medical cannabis, but the legislature must decide whether to act.
“This may also be a win for cannabis nationwide,” says Ellen Lenox Smith, U.S. Pain board member and director of the Medical Cannabis Program. “The more states that legalize cannabis, the likelier it is that federal prohibition will end.”
Missouri votes to legalize medical cannabis
Missouri legalized medical cannabis with the passage of Amendment 2. That measure set out a number of qualifying conditions, ranging from cancer to autism, as well as any other chronic or debilitating medical condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician, might be helped by the use of medical cannabis.
Utahns approves medical cannabis
Utah voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana under Proposition 2 in November as well. That measure left qualifying conditions to be determined by state officials. Those conditions are expected to be set sometime in later 2019.
Under a previous law, Utah allows for the use of CBD oil. Qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient using CBD oil in Utah include intractable epilepsy.
Wisconsin signal support of cannabis
In Wisconsin, nearly a million voters voted yes on referendum questions asking whether cannabis should be legal for medical and/or recreational use. The referendums were purely advisory; it is up to the legislature to pass any changes to state statutes.
Roadblocks still ahead
Over the summer, the Senate Appropriations Committee undid an amendment that would have allowed banks to work with cannabis companies. “This creates a major headache for the industry,” says Lenox Smith. “If a cultivator or distributor or dispensary can’t find a bank to work with, it’s hard to do business.”
In addition, states where cannabis is legal are currently blocked from helping veterans gain better access to cannabis. In September, Congress stripped the amendment that would have allowed physicians affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical cannabis in states where it’s already legal.