The legal status of cannabis in the United States is complicated & varies depending on which state you are in, your age, & even the chemical composition of a product. Even when cannabis is legal in a state, protections and privileges afforded to other Americans such as employment, housing, healthcare, and child custody rights are not always clear for cannabis patients and consumers. 

At the federal level, cannabis remains illegal. Nonetheless, 48 states and the majority of U.S. territories have enacted laws permitting the medical use of cannabis in some capacity for eligible patients. In most cases, patients must register to access legal protections and procure cannabis from licensed retail establishments. However, these programs offer limited federal protections, excluding individuals employed by or contracted with the federal government, residents of subsidized housing, veterans under VA care, and individuals in federally funded hospitals or hospice programs.

In 2018, Congress redefined hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, leading to the emergence of unregulated "hemp-derived" products like CBD and THC delta-8. While legal at the federal level, many states deem these products illegal unless produced and distributed by licensed entities, as the FDA has yet to approve them for use in food, beverages, or as dietary supplements

Despite state-level advancements and societal changes in attitudes toward cannabis, patients need to be aware of gaps in legal protections and be prepared for lingering stigma and discrimination. Federal courts have determined that medical cannabis use does not entitle patients to protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Fair Housing Act (FHA), meaning landlords and employers may prohibit its use and healthcare programs do not have to accommodate patients’ needs. Some employers maintain strict drug policies that extend to medical cannabis use, allowing drug testing and disciplinary action against employees. And without insurance coverage,  patients have to pay "out of pocket" for not only their medicine but often for doctors appointments with cannabis specialists.  

Patients should be aware that cannabis use and home cultivation can impact child custody disputes during divorce proceedings and may serve as evidence of an unfit home by child protection services. Furthermore, cannabis use may violate probation or parole terms and complicate immigration matters.

Join the movement to secure rights and protections for patients! 

Advocating for federal legislation is crucial to ensure comprehensive patient protections and privileges. Americans for Safe Access urges Congress to pass the Medical Cannabis & Cannabinoid Act of 2024 (MCCA), which proposes significant changes to federal cannabis policies, addresses public health concerns, and establishes the Office of Medical Cannabis & Cannabinoid Control (OMC) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Take Action Now to Ensure Patient Rights & Protections

Raise public awareness, mobilize action, and ultimately achieve federal legislation that guarantees safe access to medical cannabis for all Americans. Join us!