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Cannabis laws have been changing rapidly in states around the country. But there is still a gap between legislation and life, with some states struggling to sort out implementation of their medical marijuana programs.
In theory, these places have programs that allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana legally and without threat of prosecution. In reality, dispensaries are highly regulated and patients in these seven states still face major obstacles to obtaining prescription cannabis, according to Rolling Stone.
The Seven States
1. Massachusetts: In 2012, voters approved medical marijuana legalization and state-regulated dispensaries, but the state's licensing scheme has proved too complicated and not a single dispensary opened. Two dozen or so lawsuits later, Massachusetts is still working out supplying patients. Meanwhile, doctors have been arrested for growing, although regulations allow it.
2. Minnesota: This state's new medical marijuana program is very strict, limiting dispensaries and the form in which weed can be dispensed. Minnesota allows none of the plant in pure form, or flowers, but allows oils that are smoked, as well as edibles and pills. For patients, enrollment in the medical marijuana program is expensive, and for doctors it is daunting due to complicated legislation.
3. Illinois: This state legalized medical marijuana in a very limited 4-year pilot program that began in 2013 but is still struggling to get off the ground. The program has low enrollment and dispensaries are only now opening.
4. Delaware: Like Illinois, Delaware has had difficulty getting its pilot program rolling. The state received a threatening letter from federal authorities in 2012 and paused plans for some time. The program is experimental, limits dispensaries to 8 across the state, or one per county.
5. New Jersey: This state allows six marijuana dispensaries but only three have opened. It took three years to get the first and the following two only opened after New Jersey patients complained.
6. New Hampshire: The "Live Free or Die" state is strict about medical marijuana and is allowing only four dispensaries. Only five types of illness qualify a patient to participate in the program and the first dispensary is set to open in 2016.
7. Texas: An extremely limited medical marijuana program in this state was just approved this year for treatment of seizure disorders only. Patients who have tried two other treatments that failed may participate and will have access to a type of marijuana with almost no psycho-active component (THC).
Waiting for the Feds
A major hurdle for states set to implement medical marijuana programs is the federal ban that remains. While some states, like California, have extensive programs for medical marijuana patients, most still feel trepidation about legalization and will struggle with it until the U.S. government changes its view.
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