Medical Cannabis Legal Issues

Does It Matter That Cannabis Is Illegal Federally?

What does Legal Cannabis mean?

Yes, it does. Even if it is legal in Washington or your state, the Federal Government still sees Cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. That means that while it does not involve itself in the growing, buying, selling, or other aspects of Cannabis, there is a possibility that they might someday.

Also, even if you live in a state that has legalized Cannabis in some or any form and if you have a job that requires you to be Cannabis- and even Hemp-free and that organization can test you for it, my suggestion is DO NOT USE IT. If you depend on your job for income and insurance, it does not make sense to endanger it.

If it is legal and you don’t have a job or a job where your bosses don’t care, that’s another thing entirely. If you are too sick to work and require Medical Cannabis to help you exist, then you are free to experiment as needed.

From my point of view, I need Medical Cannabis to be my best, so I have decided to support and take Medical Cannabis in Washinton State where it is legal. I do think that because of the tax revenue that Cannabis generates, it would be hard to put the genie back in the bottle. But this is a decision you have to make for yourself.

What Is the Difference Between Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp?

Cannabis and hemp plants are varieties of Cannabis and are “kissing” cousins that share a lot of the same genes. While both have THC and CBD, they differ in their concentrations of THC, the part of a Cannabis plant that generates a “high.”

Note: People from the 60s used the term “Marijuana” to describe Cannabis with elevated levels of THC. But this has fallen out of favor as we have become more connected to what Cannabis and Hemp are. To simplify things, I will note “Cannabis” as having elevated levels of THC and “hemp” as products coming from the Cannabis varietal having low THC levels. The reason for this will be more evident as a person use it.

Looking at the Cannabis family today, some of it contains high concentrations of THC (5%-30%), whereas the hemp plant has extremely low THC levels (=0.3% per federal legal definitions) and manufacturers traditionally use it for industrial purposes, such as making textiles and rope. It is only lately that we have Re-discovered that CBD from hemp can help improve people’s health.

Note: In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids can occur in both Cannabis and hemp. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more research, we do not know how to best make use of all of those compounds at this time.

What Is the LEGAL Difference Between Medical Cannabis and Recreational Cannabis?

Washington State has both Medical and Recreational Cannabis. Many states have divided Cannabis into two types: Medical and Recreational Cannabis. The reasoning behind this is more political than rational. Initially, some states only wanted to legalize Medical Cannabis to support health needs (with a reduction in retail price), and others decided that they wanted Cannabis legalized or decriminalized with Medical users having to fend for themselves.

What Is the Difference Between Legalized and Decriminalized?

Cannabis is legal in Washington State. ThoughtCo.com says that legalization is the lifting or abolishment of laws banning the possession and personal use of Cannabis. However, decriminalization is the:

“loosening of criminal penalties now imposed for personal marijuana use even though the manufacturing and sale of the substance remain illegal. Under decriminalization, law enforcement is instructed to look the other way when it comes to the possession of small amounts of marijuana meant for personal use. Under decriminalization, both the production and sale of marijuana remain unregulated by the state. Those caught using the substance face civil fines instead of criminal charges.”

As of January 2019, 13 states have decriminalized Cannabis, and nine States and the District of Columbia Have Legalized Personal Marijuana Use. In this case, “legal” means that a person is using Cannabis within or supported by the laws of that state.

For example, a person may be allowed to keep a specific amount of Cannabis that can include a limit for the cultivation of live plants, and the amount of marijuana concentrates, useable marijuana, plants, or marijuana-infused products.

What Is the REAL Difference Between Recreational Cannabis and Medical Cannabis?

The REAL difference between Recreational Cannabis and Medical Cannabis, besides the legal arguments and/or acquiring a Medical Cannabis Card, is how a person USES it.

Aside from any political or medical discussion on legalization, it is crucial to understand why a person would want to take Cannabis. Depending on your age or health state, I’m sure you get this.

Recreational Cannabis

If a person is over 21 and healthy, they may only want to have fun with Cannabis. They are not concerned with any health issues, and it is the weekend and gosh darn it, a person may want to relax with friends and watch a movie.

I want to point out that there is nothing wrong with this if it is legal for a person to do so. I am sure that most Medical Cannabis people have fun with recreationally now and then anyway.
However, the rubber meets the road when there is pain or other kinds of medical challenges involved.

Medical Cannabis

This is when things get serious, and a person must sometimes reduce or eliminate their recreational use of Cannabis so that the increase in THC will not conflict with the levels of CBD and THC needed to maintain a reduced pain consistently.

For example, suppose “Frank” is a bricklayer in Ohio who, through years of hard labor, has damaged his back. The pain is something that will continue for the rest of his life. He might be keeping his pain at bay with a certain amount of CBD and THC (CBD, when combined with some amount of THC, terpenes, and other full-spectrum aspects of Cannabis plants are generally considered to be more potent than CBD alone). So he may take one Medical Cannabis capsule or a certain amount of Medical Cannabis tincture every day to lower his pain.

However, unlike taking aspirin once for a one-time headache, other kinds of pain can happen every day, all day. In that case, just like blood pressure prescriptions or other prescriptions a person may have from a doctor, a person may have to build up and maintain a Medical Cannabis level in the body to manage the pain.

Recreational Cannabis and Medical Cannabis May Not Mix

That’s why once a person figures out how much and what type of Medical Cannabis a person needs to manage a person pain, a party night of high-powered Recreational Cannabis can mess up that mixture of pain-killing Medical Cannabis a person has been working on to manage a person pain. In that case, a person needs to work hard to rebuild the pain/Medical Cannabis balance to take care of a person’s pain going forward.

Key Fact: Medical Cannabis is primarily used to relieve symptoms. It may not cure diseases. Using it may not change the outcome of a particular disease. But here is what we do know is that it can ease specific symptoms, make a person feel better, and improve quality of life.

Do I need a Medical Cannabis Card?

I have one, but you do not need one in Washington State to purchase Cannabis. Both Recreational Cannabis and Medical Cannabis are legal. You can get a Medical Cannabis Card by taking your medical history to one the doctors authorized by Washington State, and they can approve your use of Medical Cannabis. That list is available here.

Having a Washington State Medical Card will reduce the cost (about 10% or the taxes), increase in the amount of Medical Cannabis you can have on your person and at home, offer protection while driving (as long as you are not high but are carrying a more substantial than recreational amount).

You might also have some protection if your place of work finds out that you use Cannabis. As time goes on, you might also have access to stronger Medical Cannabis products if they become available. For more information: https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/washingtons-new-medical-marijuana-law-what-you-need-to-know.