gavel and scales of justice

While the use of medical cannabis is illegal on a federal level, there are several state laws allowing medical cannabis use.


This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice.

At a national level, cannabis is illegal – both for recreational and medical uses. Under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance and is therefore forbidden to be prescribed by doctors. In the eyes of the federal government, there is no “accepted medical use” for the substance [source: U.S. Dept. of Justice].

However, at the state level, the rules become unclear with each state having its own separate restrictions for growing, selling and possessing the substance. With so much varying information, it’s no wonder that clashes between state and federal governments further blur the line between what is legal and what is illegal in the medicinal cannabis business.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation governing the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Below are the summaries of the states that have enacted laws for medical cannabis use [source: NORML].