Most Americans Support Medical Marijuana Use, But Not Around Kids
The Mott poll found widespread support for medical marijuana use among adults, but a much smaller percentage of Americans believed that medical marijuana was an acceptable treatment option for children.
Sixty-three percent of people believe that medical marijuana use by adults should be permitted in their state. However, only 36 percent said that children should be legally permitted to use medical marijuana. The Mott poll also found that 80 percent of people believe that adults should not be allowed to use their medical marijuana if they are in the presence of children.
Medical, Recreational Marijuana Policies Vary Drastically
Current legislation regarding marijuana in the United Sates is extremely complicated. National law criminalizes any use of marijuana, yet nearly half of the states have passed laws permitting medical marijuana use, which are not being contested by the federal government. However, the legal status of the drug is not totally clear even within states that have legalized medical marijuana. In Maine, the state Supreme Court ruled that adults can be declared unfit as parents for using medical marijuana, even though state law makes it legal to do so. In some states, including Michigan, children have been removed from parents with marijuana prescriptions and placed in foster care.
At the same time, other states are considering legislation that would expand medical marijuana use to children who suffer from qualifying conditions. Colorado permits a certain strain of cannabis to be used by children for medical purposes. Connecticut and New Jersey are also considering such policies.
Research Is Limited
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have raised concerns about the unknown effects of medical marijuana on children. While a fair number of studies have examined the safety and efficacy of adult use of medical marijuana, studies addressing cannabis safety in children are few. What’s more, the research that does exist suggests that children and adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to some of the adverse effects associated with marijuana use.
The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it has no accepted medical use. This status severely limits the research that can be undertaken legally into the use of marijuana for the treatment of pain or other medical problems, as well as limiting federal funding for research. Bills have recently been introduced in Congress to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule II controlled substance, which would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level and permit much more widespread research into its use.
Many people who oppose the use of medical marijuana cite insufficient research, which creates a difficult dilemma. While reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II controlled substance would allow for more research, it could also increase nationwide use of medical marijuana. On the other hand, medical marijuana use is growing even without federal reclassification. The federal government’s current policy of allowing states to set their own medical and recreational marijuana laws while still restricting federal funding may be the worst of both worlds.