New Medical Marijuana Legislation


December 16, 2020

Doctor hand holding bottle with medical cannabis close up

In the November 2020 election, Mississippi and South Dakota became the most recent states to pass new legislation on medical marijuana. Now, 36 out of the 50 states have legalized marijuana in some form. Though the use of cannabis is illegal under federal law, as it remains classified as a DEA schedule 1 drug, an increasing number of states have established their own legislation and guidelines on the distribution and use of the drug.

For example, Mississippi recently passed Initiative 65, which allows access to medical marijuana for qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions. South Dakota passed Initiated Measure 26, which follows similar guidelines to Mississippi. Both states require qualifying individuals to obtain a registry identification card to purchase medical marijuana at licensed medical marijuana treatment centers. Possession limits, cannabis cultivations, and other specific regulations vary per state.

While state legislation varies, there remain federal restrictions in place. The FDA has only approved one cannabis-derived drug product, Epidiolex, and three synthetic cannabis-related drug products: Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet. In the United States, physicians are only allowed to prescribe these four medications. Any other treatment options can only be recommended. Some states, such as New Jersey, have passed new legislation to certify physicians to prescribe non-FDA-approved medical marijuana treatments.

Now that the majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, it is necessary for employers to remain up to date on the current regulations in their state. It is important to be aware of potential new physician prescribing patterns and how new legislation could impact your workers’ compensation program. For more information on medical marijuana and a breakdown of state laws, click here.

Workers’ compensation regulations vary extensively by state. To find updates for your state, review CorVel’s legislative map here.

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