The question of whether marijuana — produced from the flowering top of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa — should be used for symptom management in multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex one. It is generally agreed that better therapies are needed for distressing symptoms of MS — including pain, tremor and spasticity — that may not be sufficiently relieved by available treatments. Development of more treatments for MS symptoms is a priority for the National Society in its 2011-2015 strategic response. Still, there are uncertainties about the benefits of marijuana relative to its side effects. The fact that marijuana is an illegal drug in many states and by federal statute (see Supreme Court ruling below) further complicates the issue.
The Society supports the rights of people with MS to work with their MS health care providers to access marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations in those states where such use has been approved. In addition, the Society supports advancing research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS.
All 50 states are affected by this measure. This does not mean that medicinal marijuana is effective immediately in every state. The states must first ratify at their own legislature the passage of medicinal marijuana in order for the process to begin. Currently, there are 32 states that have medicinal marijuana approved.
Medical cannabis by state
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Amendments Washington, Washington DC, Wisconsin