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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries & Your Sobriety

If medical marijuana is legal in your state will it have an impact on your sobriety? In particular, will access to a medical marijuana dispensary mean you could jeopardize your recovery? It’s a question to think long and hard about if you have struggled with addiction. As we all know, laws have little to do with the realities of our addictions.

Just because a doctor has legitimately prescribed a pain medication, doesn’t mean that an active addict wouldn’t abuse the drug. In the same manner, if you battle alcoholism or drug addiction, be cautious about justifying the use of medical marijuana to treat an illness. As you weigh your options, learn the laws, talk with trusted advisors and medical providers, and make your decisions with a clear head and a clean heart.

Many states allow medical marijuana dispensaries, where legal and medically approved access to a mind-altering substance could be available to those struggling with addiction.

Let’s look at access to medical marijuana.

First of all, doctors don’t prescribe medical marijuana as they traditionally prescribe medications. They ‘recommend’ it. Not all doctors support the use of medical marijuana, so depending on the doctor’s personal views; the provider may not recommend it. If marijuana is recommended, the doctor writes a letter of diagnosis, which remains valid as long as that doctor is actively treating that patient. In some states (such as California), medical marijuana ID cards are available in lieu of a letter.

A common argument against medically recommended marijuana is that unethical doctors would be swayed to provide letters or ID cards in return for money, instead of due to a real medical need on the part of the patient.

With a legal letter or ID card, a patient can purchase medical marijuana in various forms from a dispensary. These forms are usually either herbal marijuana or marijuana-based products and prepared foods. To purchase the medical marijuana, the patient simply presents the required paperwork. In some instances he or she must be a member of the marijuana dispensary collective or co-op. To purchase from a dispensary, the patient must be 21 or older. The amount a patient is allowed to purchase at one time is usually capped at the same amount as the states’ legal limit for possession.

States that permit medical marijuana dispensaries to operate include:

  • Alaska

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Washington DC

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

States that permit medical marijuana dispensaries with limited access laws:

(wherein the dispensary is often located in a university and regulates the type of marijuana – low THC/high cannabidiol produced and distributed include)

  • Alabama

  • Florida

  • Kentucky

  • Mississippi

  • Tennessee

  • Utah

There is no standard prescription amount for medical marijuana.

There is also no regulation of purchase (beyond the cap mentioned above) on the part of the dispensaries, so the patient is left to regulate what he or she deems appropriate for consumption and mitigation of pain. This type of unsupervised access to an often-abused substance could prove too tempting for an alcoholic or addict who is not in a strong program of recovery.

If you are recommended to use medical marijuana to treat an illness, be honest with yourself, your recovery team, and your medical team.

Accountability plays a crucial role in getting and staying sober. Medical marijuana may be a medically helpful for you, but be sure it’s not something you abuse due to accessibility.

Image: Flickr