The current legal and economic status of Medical Marijuana in the USA

If there were a topic that has remained pervasive in the past fifty years, that would be the topic of hemp and marijuana, and their influence in not only the United States of America, but the world at large. The first thing that has to be said, which is often overlooked is that hemp and marijuana are not the same things. They are both cannabis plants, under the botanical name cannabis sativa. Cannabis plants contain a very unique compound called cannabinoids. Studies have shown that there are over 60 different types of cannabinoids but THC is the most well-known and extensively researched.

Marijuana is more common and widely consumed. Medical marijuana uses the marijuana plant or derivatives of it for the treatment of diseases. Diseases it has been used to treat include: Alzheimer’s disease, Glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, eating disorders like Anorexia, Nausea, pain etc.

The Food Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to approve the use of medical marijuana as research studies through clinical trials to show its efficacy and to determine that the benefits as a drug outweigh the risks in patients it is meant to treat, remains inconclusive. However, individual tests of the chemicals found in marijuana called cannabinoids has led to approval from the FDA for two drugs in pill form, dronabinol and nabilone, used in the treatment of nausea and to boost appetite. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states in the USA although their usage and approach can slightly differ.

Some allow medical marijuana dispensaries and home cultivation, other states allow for only medical dispensaries and no home cultivation, while others allow it for cultivation at home only. It has restricted usage in another 14 states. In these states, possession of marijuana in small doses is no longer a criminal offense and it carries no criminal penalties like fines, jail time or community service but being in possession of it in large amounts, trafficking or sale of it for recreational purposes are still very much considered criminal offenses and are punishable by law.

The economic side of the marijuana industry seems to be huge and very rewarding to the American economy. According to studies carried out by an independent financial organization, Ackrell Capital, the medical marijuana industry was said to be worth a staggering $40 billion in 2016 in both states where the use of marijuana are both legal and illegal. The same organization goes further to state that if the drug becomes federally legalized, the industry will grow further to an estimated $50 billion in the next 10 years.

The boost in the sale of marijuana related products was aided in no small part by the successful cultivation schemes following the passing of the 2014 Farm bill which allowed for the cultivation of marijuana in certain states.

Another report has projections of the industry being worth $44 billion by 2020. The medical marijuana industry might just be the biggest boost and business to the American economy and people since the Internet.