The debate about whether marijuana should be legalized across the U.S. remains a hot-button issue. While the legalization and use of recreational marijuana has gained great momentum in many states in recent years, other more-wary states have been at least willing to accept and legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
Proponents of medical marijuana who support its legalization mainly point to its health benefits and how it can oftentimes replace prescription medications. Medical marijuana opponents, meanwhile, typically state that the substance is an addictive drug that can lead to other, more harmful drugs.
It is the states that decide marijuana laws. No matter what your personal feelings are on the subject, some states are moving forward with the legalization of marijuana. In several states, medical-grade marijuana can be prescribed by a doctor to patients experiencing anything from seizures to nerve pain, glaucoma, or even cancer.
At this writing, there were a total of 37 states and the District of Columbia that had legalized medical marijuana. These states, and Washington, D.C., maintain programs that allow patients to purchase and consume marijuana to treat their qualified medical conditions.
The states where medical marijuana is legal are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Meanwhile, seven states have legalized the medical use of CBD oil only: Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Medical Marijuana’s Growing Popularity
Perhaps the most appealing aspect about medical marijuana and its use is the variety of ways it can be administered. While most people immediately think of smoking marijuana, this isn’t the only way to consume the weed. Patients can treat their symptoms using cannabis in the form of capsules, patches, sprays, oils, and lozenges, among other forms.
In states where it’s legal, patients can purchase their prescribed orders for medical marijuana by visiting one of the many medical marijuana dispensaries in their state. These dispensaries differ from recreational ones in the products offered at each.
Recreational dispensaries usually have a wider variety of products than medical ones, although medical dispensaries tend to offer products that are more specialized. This is because the state government doesn’t regulate recreational dispensaries as closely as medicinal ones. This can be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for.
Also, recreational dispensaries typically have cheaper prices than those dispensing medical facilities, but the product quality can be subpar.
Patients who visit medical marijuana dispensaries can also buy their medication in various ways. Some states allow patients to shop at stores similar to how they would go grocery shopping, where they can simply pick out what they want and pay for it at the register.
Other states only allow patients to make appointments with one of the dispensary operators, which means patients must wait until their appointment should come up before receiving their medicine.
Still other states allow people to order their medicine online and have it delivered to their doorstep.
Finding a Dispensary That’s Right for You
The best way to find out what dispensary is closest to you is to do a quick internet search for medical marijuana dispensaries that are closest to you. This will give you a list of dispensaries in your area, as well as their contact information and hours of operation.
Most medical marijuana dispensaries can be found in states where the state law has passed and it is legal to dispense. There are a few exceptions, but most states with legalized cannabis have dispensaries that you can visit for your required needs.
The average cost of cannabis products at a dispensary will typically depend on which state it is located in and what grade level of cannabis is being sold. Dispensaries usually sell four different types of cannabis:
- Flower, or bud, which is the actual compressed marijuana plant. This is pretty much always available unless it’s sold out or the shop has run out for that day due to high demand.
- Concentrates, such as dabs or hash oil, are more potent forms of medical marijuana because they contain very high THC levels – upwards of 90%.
- Edibles usually come in gummy form, brownie or cookie form, suckers, hard candies, or drinks; each edible will usually contain 10-100 mg of THC.
- Topicals are applied directly to the skin (not normally smoked) and used to treat painful ailments such as arthritis and backaches.
The price of medical marijuana depends on its strain, quality, and popularity at the time of purchase. Concentrates, for example, are generally more expensive than flower because of the high THC levels they contain. Generally, though, most dispensaries have products that range in price from $5 to $60 per gram.
Finally, dispensary workers – called “budtenders” – can offer helpful advice on what products may work best for your needs during your visit. Many dispensaries in addition keep journals of their customers’ purchases so that future visits can be tailored to better meet the customer’s needs.