Medical Marijuana

One of the most egregious outcomes of marijuana prohibition is that many sick people cannot legally access the medicine that works best for them. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is committed to legalizing marijuana at the state and federal levels and improving medical marijuana programs to better protect patients’ rights and access to medicine.

Current Medical Marijuana Laws in the U.S.

2016 Initiative Results

Election Day was a watershed moment for the movement to end marijuana prohibition — no other reform was approved by so many citizens on so many ballots this year. Legalization initiatives prevailed in four out of five states, and medical marijuana initiatives prevailed in all four states.

But the prospect of Donald Trump as our next president is profoundly troubling. While Trump has repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, his rhetoric on broader criminal justice issues has been largely unfriendly. 

Read more about the impact of the 2016 election on our blog.

Take Action

The CARERS Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to let states legalize marijuana for medical use. Tell your Senators to legalize medical marijuana nationwide!

Why Should We Legalize?

Provide effective medicine
For many seriously ill people, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering, or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects.

Marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of a huge variety of serious medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to synthetic painkillers.

Advance research
Marijuana prohibition has thwarted research within the United States to uncover the best and most effective uses for marijuana as a medicine. Legalization would allow research into marijuana’s medical benefits to move forward.

Featured Resources

Medical Marijuana
Marijuana Facts
Why Are CBD-Focused Laws Not Enough?
Marijuana Concentrates
The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science

So Far, So Good: What We Know About Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C.

October 13, 2016

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two U.S. states – and the first two jurisdictions in the world – to approve ending marijuana prohibition and legally regulating marijuana production, distribution and sales. In the 2014 election, Alaska and Oregon followed suit, while Washington D.C. passed a more limited measure that legalized possession and home cultivation of marijuana (but did not address its taxation and sale due to D.C. law).

Advocates Welcome New York's Medical Marijuana Program Changes, Push for Immediate Rollout

Governor Heeds Advocates’ Call to Expand New York's Medical Marijuana Program, Adopts Recommendations From Dept. of Health

NEW YORK—Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his office will sign off on all 12 recommendations made by the Department of Health in its recent two-year report evaluating the rollout and current status of New York’s medical marijuana program.


Kate Hintz (914) 257-7063
Kassandra Frederique (646) 209-0374

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Refuses to Reschedule Marijuana

Agency Removes Separate Research Barrier, Ending Monopoly on Research

Drug Policy Alliance: Next Administration Must End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Today, the DEA announced that it was not rescheduling marijuana, in effect refusing to recognize marijuana's medicinal benefits. But in what is viewed as a victory for the marijuana reform movement, the DEA said that it was ending its monopoly on marijuana research.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Michael Collins 404-539-6437

Marijuana and Opiates

August 9, 2016

Prescription drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Many of these overdoses are related to the increasing number of people taking opiate-based medications for pain related conditions. Marijuana has been shown as an effective treatment for pain, and has a better safety profile than opiates with less risk for dependence and no risk of fatal overdose.

Separating Myth From Fact: Drug Policy Alliance Releases New Marijuana Facts Booklet

Addresses Most Commonly-Asked Questions About Marijuana Use and Its Effects

Several States Preparing for Historic Votes on Marijuana Law Reform this November

Today, the Drug Policy Alliance released Marijuana Facts, intended for non-expert audiences seeking answers to some of the most common questions asked about marijuana use, its effects, and the rapidly-shifting legal landscape.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384

TODAY: Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Medical Marijuana

Senators Booker and Gillibrand Invited as Guest Witnesses to Testify

Congress under Pressure to Protect Patients and Move CARERS Act

Today at 2:30pm, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism will hold a hearing entitled, “Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana.” Senators will hear from witnesses from the FDA, NIDA, as well as medical professionals who will discuss the pros and cons of medical marijuana. Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) are also scheduled to testify as guest witnesses.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Michael Collins 404-539-6437

Report Finds Too Few Patients Can Access Medicine Through New York's Overly Restrictive, Expensive Medical Marijuana Program

Seventy-seven Percent of Patients & Caregivers Surveyed, Who Accessed the Program, Say They Cannot Afford the Medicine They Need

Advocates Call On New York State Legislature to Pass Bills to Increase Patient Access to Medical Marijuana

New York – Today, the Drug Policy Alliance issued a report assessing the first four months on the state’s medical marijuana program. The report is in response to demand for information in the face of the absence of all but the most limited public information from the New York State Department of Health.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Julie Netherland 917-819-0309

Assessing New York’s Medical Marijuana Program: Problems of Patient Access and Affordability

June 13, 2016
New York became the 23rd state to roll out its medical marijuana program on January 7, 2016. The law has been criticized as being one of the most restrictive and burdensome programs in the country. This report, an assessment of the first four months of the program, found that patients and caregivers face significant barriers to accessing medical marijuana.

New Mexico's Department of Health Administrative Delays are Preventing Thousands of Patients from Accessing Medical Cannabis

Delays Violate State Law and Put Patients at Risk of Criminal Prosecution

SANTA FE— New Mexico’s Department of Health administrative shortfalls are leaving medical cannabis patients without access to medicine and unprotected from criminal liability for purchase, possession, and cultivation across New Mexico.

According to law, the Department of Health (DOH) is required to process medical cannabis program patient enrollment applications (26-2B-7 C NMSA 1978) in 30 days, but for several months the department has not been able to comply. Current wait time for medical cannabis enrollment processing exceeds 60 days.


Jessica Gelay 505-573-4422
Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

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