In a state that legalizes medical marijuana, is it considered a medication? Not really since the FDA approves medications for a specific indication. Natural marijuana does not have an approved indication by the FDA and is classified by the DEA as a schedule 1 narcotic. So even while being legal in 15 states, it remains federally illegal and cannot be prescribed and considered a true medication according to an FDA definition.
With a DEA classification as a Schedule One Narcotic, it refers to the drug having a high potential for abuse and no medical value.
Multiple states, including Arizona, disagree with this assessment and have approved marijuana for medicinal use.
The objective with a state approving the use of medical marijuana is not to have it prescribed by physicians. If a medication is approved by the FDA, it may be prescribed. One of these medications would be dronabinol, which is a synthetic marijuana medication approved to reduce nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy and prevent severe weight loss in HIV and AIDS patients.
The state objective with legalizing medical marijuana is for doctors to certify (or recommend) patients who meet the criteria for the state. The physician evaluates individuals and after a medical determination fills out a state required certification.
Once this is finished, individuals are then able to take that documentation, which is known as a Medical Marijuana Physician Certification, and turn it in to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Another form that is needed is the Patient Attestation, which states that the qualified patient will not divert the medicinal marijuana to other people. This makes sense as the person needs to be held responsible if he or she is administered a Medical Marijuana Patient ID Card and then abuses that privilege by selling the product.
In a state that approves a patient for a medical marijuana patient id card, how does he or she actually acquire the marijuana? Normally the product will come from a state licensed dispensary. If the program is new, the patient may be allowed to grow his or her own marijuana plants until the dispensaries go live. In Arizona, for instance, patients may grow their own marijuana until a dispensary becomes active within 25 miles of his or her residence.