There currently are 29 or 30 states where at least medical marijuana is legal.
If it seems odd that I can’t give a firm number, blame the swiftly shifting laws that make even news organizations and legal cannabis advocates pause before declaring a state has or has not made medical marijuana legal. West Virginia is the latest state, signed into law April 19, 2017. Louisiana, which legalized it in 2016, is sometimes left off the list for some reason.
Of the remaining 20 states, 16 have laws regulating cannabidiol or CBD, the second most plentiful cannabinoid in marijuana or cannabis. (No. 1 is THC, the main euphoriant, i.e. what gets you high.) CBD by contrast is a non-euphoriant. It often comes in the form of an oil that can be applied topically or added to baked goods. It also may be where most of the pain-killing benefit resides (though some aficionados say a little THC mixed in improves the effects).
One pain sufferer online reported how he had reluctantly tried an edible that he thought contained marijuana (he usually didn’t like cannabis’ effects), but actually contained only CBD. After at first being upset that he didn’t get high, he realized the pain had gone away.
Not that CBD oil is readily available everywhere, even where CBD is permitted. Just as local authorities—who do not approve of marijuana legalization — tend to drag their feet making legal medical marijuana actually available, CBD oil — despite being a non-euphoriant — is often hard to come by. Even if it doesn’t get you high, it’s guilty by association. Meanwhile synthetic THC is available by prescription.
Marijuana and probably CBD (again, it’s hard to nail it down) are not legal at the federal level, but the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (formerly known as Rohrabacher-Farr), voted on by Congress, prevents any federal money going to prosecuting marijuana infractions if they are legal by state law.
That may change this year. If the Congress and the Senate haven’t renewed the amendment by Dec. 8, it will expire. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is lobbying hard for that to happen, as he wants to enforce US law on marijuana, which he hates, considers a gateway drug, and thinks it has a raft of other negative effects, li8ttle different from opioids. He seems to fear that legalizing marijuana while there is an opioid epidemic will make things worse.
Actually, most of the evidence out there suggests it may make things better. Statistical analysis suggests that violent crime and opioid overdose deaths actually go down where legal cannabis is available. At the very least, marijuana is safer because no overdose deaths solely attributable to marijuana have ever been recorded. It has even shown promise in weaning addicts off of opioids for pain management or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At least one drug rehab clinic now offers opioid rehab with cannabis. It’s too soon to say if this a good or effective widespread treatment.