Medical marijuana in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Since California first passed a proposition legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in 1996, medical marijuana has seen a rise in state and public support and has become a growing and prosperous industry. Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been approved for medical use in 34 states (including the District of Columbia) until now, and is used to treat symptoms associated with diseases such as, for example, cancer and glaucoma. In general, it is mostly used for pain relief.

The discussion about legalizing

Although the topic of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes might have been considered controversial in the past, there has been an increase in evidence for the medical benefits of marijuana, such as fewer drug doses being prescribed as a result of its legalization. In addition, some of the possible negative consequences of medical marijuana legalization that were often used to argue against legalization have been found to be unsubstantiated.

Differences among and within states

Medical marijuana laws, usage, and prices vary from state to state. Not only can prices differ dramatically by state there can also be significant differences in medical marijuana prices between cities within the same state. As some states have more relaxed medical marijuana laws than others, and some have even recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries open in each state is also quite varied. The number of medical marijuana patients and caregivers can also fluctuate depending on the state. While Oklahoma, for example, had a legal medical marijuana patient rate of almost eight percent as of July 2020, Louisiana, Utah, and Alaska had a rate of under 0.1 percent.

The full potential has yet to be seen

It is expected that medical marijuana will continue to grow as an industry and public support with it. According to surveys from recent years, public approval of medical marijuana has indeed increased, remaining above 77 percent since 2011. Medical marijuana patients seem to also be satisfied with the treatment they experience, with a majority reporting that they would be highly likely to recommend medical marijuana to friends or family for treatment. It also looks like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed down the medical cannabis market as for some states have reported a rise in usage during 2020. That medical marijuana is indeed a market with huge potentials is proven by the fact that big pharma is already heavily involved in this area.


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