What are the negative unintended consequences of medical marijuana?
November 19, 2009 12:03 PM   Subscribe

What are the unintended, negative consequences of having a medical marijuana prescription?

I've hit a point with my anxiety where I literally cannot function anymore. I am on antidepressants already, and have sedatives for when I anticipate an anxiety attack, but they aren't working- I feel like the antidepressants don't do anything at all, and the sedatives knock me out cold- and I'm already on the minimum dose.
In the past I have been a non-user, a full-on stoner, and an occasional, recreational user of marijuana. I mean this honestly (and I type this while sober)- the happiest, most productive time of my life was when I smoked on a daily basis. It was the first time I was ever able to hold down a job, I was in the best shape of my life (I had a six-pack!), and my anxiety attacks disappeared. So, now I am considering getting a medical marijuana prescription. I'm not trying to get high- I am hoping to consume low doses of edibles, just enough to get rid of my anxiety.

However: the whole thing just seems too easy. Even though it is now legal in California, are there consequences I'm not considering? Will this show up on background checks? Can I be denied a job for using medical marijuana? Somewhere, I remember hearing that if you have a medical marijuana prescription, you can be denied financial aid for college- I just applied to graduate school, and I'm going to need financial aid.

In short, I need to know every negative consequence that they don't tell you about when you want to become a medical marijuana user.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think it might be hard to answer these questions, since the state of medical marijuana under the Obama administration has become much more lax. You probably don't have to worry about being raided by federal agents like you might have been under Bush, but beyond that, I'm getting the sense that it might be too early to tell.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2009

You should speak to an attorney about these types of questions. Your local chapter of the ACLU or NORML may be able to give you a referral.
posted by dfriedman at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2009

First of all, read what the good folks at Americans for Safe Access have to say. Medical cannabis is legal in California as long as you meet the requirements, the key one being a doctor's recommendation. They have a lot of information on their website, and will also answer your questions individually if you call them.

You can suffer employment consequences if your employer does drug tests, unfortunately. This has been litigated, and legislation has been introduced at the state level to fix this, but it hasn't happened yet.

To the best of my knowledge there is no impact on financial aid. There can be an impact if you are not going through the legal medical cannabis process and are arrested, however.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:36 PM on November 19, 2009

Medical cannabis is legal, however you can still lose your job at any point if you agreed to be drug tested as a condition of ongoing employment. This has been said, but many people only think about initial employment when they consider this.
posted by uaudio at 12:52 PM on November 19, 2009

Even if it's legal in your state, it's still a violation of Federal law. The Obama administration has said it won't be enforcing the law, but that could change.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, I am pretty sure it goes on your medical records. Are you ever going to move to a state where having been prescribed marijuana puts you in the position of being a confirmed drug user as a pre-existing condition? Do you think you will ever have non-group insurance? Etc.
posted by shownomercy at 1:16 PM on November 19, 2009

shownomercy: As I understand it, virtually all "recommendations" for medical marijuana (they can't legally be prescriptions) tend to come form practices that solely consist of handling medical marijuana requests. As such, that medical record would be held at that doctor's office and wouldn't be a part of your normal records that would likely be seen by insurance companies and the like. That's not to say that someone won't find out, but it would be separate.
posted by zachlipton at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2009

The worst case would be the information being publicly tied to you and future employers, etc. turning you away. I'm not sure anyone even cares anymore though.
posted by xammerboy at 1:39 PM on November 19, 2009

Are you in any line of work where you might forsee needing a security clearance?

I have no idea how those will handle legal marijuana use in the future. You certainly can get one, even if you used illegally--they're more concerned with your truthfulness and ability to be blackmailed than use of an ubiquitous low-level drug, as I understand it--but as Chocolate Pickle points out, it is a violation of federal statutes. It would certainly come up, but I can't even offer a guess as to how it might be resolved.
posted by stevis23 at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2009

If you don't want it in your medical record, have that conversation with your doctor. There is nothing about a medical marijuana recommendation that makes it automatically a part of your record.

To answer your question a little more clearly--yes, you can be arrested for marijuana possession, even with a card in California. You have a very strong legal case for getting the charges dismissed, but not without some expense and hassle. You can be discriminated against by your employer. Depending on what county you live in, you may face more or less harassment. It is not without risk. The good news is that there are organizations like ASA working hard to minimize those risks.

Legal access absolutely has fewer risks than the illegal way of getting marijuana, but that doesn't mean it has none.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:16 PM on November 19, 2009

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