242040 Community Responses to Laws in States Decriminalizing Medical Marijuana

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:30 AM

Diane Hoffmann, JD/MPH , University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD
Thus far, 15 jurisdictions have passed laws decriminalizing medical marijuana. States that have passed these laws allow patients to possess, and in many cases cultivate, small quantities of marijuana for medical purposes without being subject to state criminal penalties. These state laws vary, however, in a number of significant aspects. All states, except NJ and the District of Columbia, permit patients or their caregivers to grow their own marijuana but many are silent as to how else patients might obtain the drug. More recent state laws (and amendments to pre-existing laws), however, are permitting the establishment of dispensaries. For example, Maine recently revised its law to allow establishment of non-profit dispensaries. Rhode Island, which passed its law in 2006, allows for the creation of compassion centers that can dispense marijuana, New Jersey allows creation of alternative treatment centers that can dispense marijuana, and D.C.'s new law permits obtaining marijuana only from dispensaries registered with the Mayor's office. Efforts to regulate these dispensaries in many jurisdictions are falling to local governments which are using zoning or other ordinances to either limit the number of dispensaries and/or regulate their operation. This presentation will compare how local governments are regulating medical marijuana dispensaries and the challenges they face in doing so as well as challenges to having such dispensaries within communities, e.g., crime, diversion and abuse. It will also recommend best practices for regulation of dispensaries in states that have decriminalized medical marijuana.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe differences in state laws decriminalizing medical marijuana Compare and contrast regulation of dispensaries for medical marijuana by local governments in states that have permitted the sale of medical marijuana Identify best practices for regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries by communities/local governments

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published in this area and am preparing a grant application to look more closely at these issues. See Diane E. Hoffmann and Ellen Weber, "Medical Marijuana and the Law," NEJM 362;16 (April 22, 2010)
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.