As more countries in consider legalizing access to cannabis, what can Europe learn from the US medical cannabis card system? The United States of America has been a leading nation in terms of early adoption of all the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. To recognize patients who make use of this alternative medication, a concept of medical cannabis cards was evolved. Guest writer, Mary Peck, shares insights from the USA experience.
How Did the Concept of Medical Marijuana Card First Start?
A medical cannabis card or medical marijuana (MMJ) card is a state-issued identification document that recognizes a patient’s need to consume, possess or cultivate cannabis plants for medicinal purposes.
The main motive of coming up with the concept of medical marijuana cards was to distinguish a patient of medical cannabis from a recreational one. With such a simple aim the procedure of applying for state licensed medical cards was first started in the state of California. A medical cannabis program, enacted by Proposition 215 in 1996 and a 420 bill in 2003, directed the patients of California to obtain a recommendation from a doctor if they wished to use cannabis for any illness.
The concept caught on and slowly each state, be it a medical-only or a recreational one, started with the system of medical cannabis cards. This effective system of applying for cannabis cards in the US states coincided with a wave of marijuana legalization.
Medical and recreational weed was getting legalized left, right and centre in rec states throughout the USA and these cards simplified the whole system of identifying the purpose of cannabis consumption within that territory.
How Can European Countries Begin MMJ Card Systems?
The practice of consuming cannabis for medical purposes is still at an infant stage in Europe. Each nation of this continent has had a unique marijuana journey and a different set of goals to achieve with regards to using this alternative form of medicinal therapy , with countries like Germany and Luxembourg leading the way in 2022.
There is a long way to go before the practice of consuming medical cannabis reaches the same levels in Europe as it has in the USA. However, a good start for European countries would be to start MMJ card systems which incorporate standardized rules and regulations and create clear distinctions between patients and recreational users.
What Benefits Do Medical Cannabis Cards Offer Patients?
Easy & Unlimited Access to Cannabis
Patients who are treating some severe health issues want, or rather need, easy and unlimited access to their medicine – which in this case happens to be medical cannabis. A medical marijuana card can open doors to all medical dispensaries as well as give leeway for patients to even cultivate their own required amount at home. When a patient with a card is free to grow and consume their own high quality cannabis plants, why wouldn’t they? This is the foremost benefit of the scheme.
Fewer Restrictions on Potency Limits
Since patients are often treating severe symptoms they may require a high potency medical marijuana strain or product. As we all know, the dosage of a medication is of primary concern which is why the doctors are consulted during the application process of these medical cannabis cards and the potency is discussed at length.
In most legalized countries and states, the legal age of buying, possessing or growing cannabis is 21 or above. An official MMJ card allows patients aged 18 and over to use cannabis products for medical reasons. In special cases even under-18 patients, with the help of a caregiver’s license, can make use of marijuana to treat their health condition.
Cannabis is not a cheap medication. Especially since the consumption is levied with huge state taxes in the USA, particularly in rec states. Rec states are states where both medical as well as recreational marijuana is legal for consumption. In such states, the local government earns a huge profit which is why cannabis is a booming field in the USA.
This poses a problem for patients, however an MMJ card allows them to benefit from reduced prices.
Would Europeans Benefit From Adopting the American MMJ Card System?
It could be argued that adopting a tried and tested medical cannabis card system would be highly beneficial for the European countries. Applying for an online medical card is such an easy process that any patient can officially and easily follow the steps and benefit from easily accessible medical cannabis to treat their symptoms.