The Wisconsin State Legislature may pass medical marijuana—with strict conditions
The Wisconsin State Legislature may pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana. If medical marijuana is legalized, there will likely be strict conditions determining which patients can legally access it. Assembly Speaker Robin Voshas already made it clear that regardless of its popularity among voters, many Republicans remain firmly against legalizing recreational marijuana.
The possibility of legalization has prompted questions on what medical marijuana could look like in Wisconsin. Barbara Zabawa, a clinical assistant professor at UW-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences, offers some insight on what these conditions look like in other similar states and what could happen in Wisconsin.
Zabawa explains that in states where marijuana is legal, there is typically a limit on the amounts that someone may purchase. In states where it's legal, medical marijuana requires a prescription from an appropriate, prescribing medical authority, typically a doctor. Marijuana-specific laws will also typically prohibit people from other states crossing state lines to purchase the substance.
The conditions for medical marijuana use vary from state to state. In some, state lawmakers create a list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana prescriptions; in other states, prescribing physicians have the discretion to decide which conditions can be treated by medical marijuana. It's unclear what medical evidence would be necessary for a condition to be included on a potential list, since most research has been obstructed by the federal legal status of marijuana.
"Clinical research has been very, very limited because of the drug status of being a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and it is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the DEA, and so federally marijuana is still illegal," Zabawa says. "And so research, using an illegal drug, is difficult, and certainly you're not gonna get funding for it from any federal agency."
Zabawa says the legal path forward is simple, as roughly 30 states in the U.S. have some form or legal medical or recreational marijuana. But politically, legalizing medical marijuana has proven to be more complex.
"It's the political climate that I think is the more of the challenge. That is the big hurdle that I think our state would face," says Zabawa.