Medical Marijuana Laws by State

Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 3 calls for the medical use of marijuana in Pennsylvania. Senator Folmer introduced the bill in January of this year. Since the introduction, the Senate has amended the bill three times.

The amendments added the following:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease

In addition, chronic or intractable pain were also added as conditions that would allow a physician to recommend marijuana. The fourth draft, Printer’s Number 889, was amended in May and passed the Senate the following day by a vote of 40 to 7. In many ways, Pennsylvania is just following the 24 jurisdictions that have already legalized medical marijuana, though SB3 does include certain conditions that are rare for a medical marijuana program to allow.

Pennsylvania's SB3 Laws

Medical marijuana laws routinely cover Cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and ALS. Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania’s SB3 covers all of these conditions. Statutes also commonly cover symptoms, including cachexia, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, and pain. Unfortunately, SB3 does not cover muscle spasms or nausea. While it does cover pain, it does not cover severe pain, the most common wording in existing laws, but rather chronic or intractable pain. This means that acute pain cannot be helped. Pain must be endured for patients to be eligible. SB3 also specifies that marijuana only be used after other treatments “no longer have therapeutic or palliative benefit.”

However, Pennsylvania’s bill breaks new ground. It allows for the use of marijuana to treat diabetes. This revolutionary provision has not been included in any other marijuana program in the United States.

Although not a rare condition, the diseases have yet to stir up enough noise to appear on a statute. SB3 does not designate any particular types of diabetes, so any type is eligible, though it is doubtful that physicians will recommend marijuana for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. Pennsylvania would also be only the second state to allow marijuana for traumatic brain injury and spinocerebellar ataxia, conditions currently enumerated by Illinois’ marijuana law. Post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease are fairly uncommon provisions, but states have allowed marijuana use for those patients in the past. Pennsylvania would join the ranks of the uncommon states that allow marijuana for those conditions.


What the data do not show is the visualization of Pennsylvania being surrounded by states with medical marijuana programs. Of all the state’s neighbors, only West Virginia and Ohio have yet to introduce medical marijuana programs. In fact, it is the only state in the northeast without medical marijuana. The legalization would hardly come as a shock, nor would it be unwelcome. A recent poll found 87 percent of Pennsylvanians support a medical marijuana program[i].


While the data demonstrate that Pennsylvania’s SB3 does not apply to many conditions, one must note that only Illinois (where specific rare conditions are named at the expensive of broader provisions like pain and nausea) and New Hampshire name more conditions in their statutes. Washington DC and Massachusetts, however, allow for clauses that allow for a physician to recommend use of marijuana for any appropriate condition, and Minnesota and New Jersey have broad language allowing marijuana for terminal illnesses. In those states, then, disease coverage could be broader than Pennsylvania’s.

SB3’s coverage has some important gaps.

Though it contains most of the standard coverage, it falls short on the following:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms

However, the inclusion of the more rarely seen coverage in medical marijuana laws could have a strong impact of future legislation in other states. This is particularly exciting for the nearly 30 million Americans living with diabetes[ii]. Pennsylvania’s SB3 makes a bold move in the right direction, even with its weak points.


[i]Jason Klinger, Franklin & Marshall College Poll: Voters Support Medical Marijuana, Suspension of Death Penalty, Franklin & Marshall College (Jun 18, 2015), http://www.fandm.edu/news/latest-news/2015/06/18/franklin-marshall-college-poll-voters-support-medical-marijuana-suspension-of-death-penalty.

[ii]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Latest, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/ (Last Accessed Nov 11, 2015)


List of Conditions Covered by Medical Marijuana Laws, by State

Alaska

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Seizures

Arizona

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Seizures

California

  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Migraine
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Seizures

Colorado

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Seizures

Connecticut

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Skeletal Muscular Spasticity1

Delaware

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Decompensated Cirrhosis
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)2
  • Pain (Severe)3
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Hawaii

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Seizures

Illinois

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Arnold–Chiari Malformation
  • Arthritis4
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • CIDP
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia5
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Residual Limb Pain
  • Seizures
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Spinal Cord Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov Cysts
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Maine

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Intractable)
  • Seizures

Maryland

  • Anorexia
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Seizures

Massachusetts

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Intractable)
  • Parkinson's Disease

Michigan

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)7
  • Pain (Severe)7
  • Seizures

Minnesota

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome8
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Nausea (Severe)8
  • Pain (Chronic)8
  • Seizures
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Any Terminal Illness

Montana

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hospice Patients
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)9
  • Pain (Chronic)10
  • Pain (Severe)10
  • Peripheral Neuropathy (Severe)
  • Seizures11
  • Skeletal Muscular Spasticity12

Nevada

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS22
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)23
  • Seizures

New Hampshire

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Anorexia13
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Elevated Intraocular Pressure
  • Epilepsy16
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C14
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Injury (Non-Spinal)15
  • Lupus16
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Pain (Severe)17
  • Pancreatitis (Chronic)
  • Parkinson's Disease16
  • Spinal Cord Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injury

New Jersey

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome18
  • Cancer19
  • Crohn's Disease20
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma21
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Seizures21
  • Skeletal Muscular Spasticity21
  • Any Terminal Illness

New Mexico

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cervical Dystonia
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hospice Patients
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Inclusion Body Myotosis
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Peripheral Neuropathy (Severe)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Ulcerative Colitis

New York

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease25
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms26
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Neuropathy (Any Type)
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Seizures
  • Skeletal Muscular Spasticity27
  • Alzheimer's, arthritis, dystonia, muscular dystrophy and post-traumatic stress disorder are not covered24

Oregon

  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizures

Pennsylvania

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Pain (Chronic)
  • Pain (Intractable)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizures
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Rhode Island

  • Alzheimer's
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Chronic)28
  • Seizures

Vermont

  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nausea (Severe)
  • Pain (Severe)
  • Seizures

Washington

  • Anorexia
  • Appetite Loss29
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Cramping29
  • Crohn's Disease30
  • Glaucoma31
  • Hepatitis C32
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms29
  • Nausea (Severe)29
  • Pain (Intractable)33
  • Seizures
  • Skeletal Muscular Spasticity

1. "[D]amage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity"

2. Intractable

3. "[S]evere, debilitating pain, that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than 3 months or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects"

4. Rheumatoid arthiritis

5. Severe

6. "...means causing weakness… or impairing strength or ability, and progressing to such an extent that one or more of a patient’s major life activities is substantially limited"

7. Severe AND chronic pain

8. If symptom of terminal illness or cancer

9. Intractable

10. [S]evere chronic pain that is persistent pain of severe intensity that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient's treating physician and by:

(i) objective proof of the etiology of the pain, including relevant and necessary diagnostic tests that may include but are not limited to the results of an x-ray, computerized tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging; or

(ii) confirmation of that diagnosis from a second physician who is independent of the treating physician and who conducts a physical examination

11. Intractable seizure disorder or epilepsy

12. Chronic, painful

13. Chemotherapy induced

14. Currently receiving antiviral treatment

15. "[O]ne or more injuries that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s provider"

16. Added by petition after law

17. "[S]evere pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects, constant or severe nausea, moderate to severe vomiting, seizures, or severe, persistent muscle spasms"

18. From HIV/AIDS or cancer

19. Terminal only

20. Any inflammatory bowel disease

21. "[I]f resistant to conventional medical therapy"

22. AIDS only

23. Severe pain

24. No later than eighteen months from the effective date of this section [No later than January 2016], the commissioner shall determine whether to add the following serious conditions: Alzheimer's, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, post-traumatic stress disorder and rheumatoid arthritis.

25. Any inflamatory bowel disease

26. Severe or persistent

27. "damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity"

28. Must be "severe, debilitating, chronic pain"

29. "when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications"

30. "with debilitating symptoms unrelieved by standard treatments or medications"

31. "either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications"

32. "with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments or medications"

33. "limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications"

34. Total states with current statutes, excludes PA

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