Thirty-six states and four territories in the United States have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational use. Marijuana, however, continues to be classified as a schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substance Act and remains illegal under US federal law. The incongruity between state and federal legislation creates various challenges for stakeholders: patients, medical trainees, providers, and health care institutions. This communication provides an overview of the major policies impacting Cannabis sativa use within the United States, various state and federal regulations, and highlights potential implications for health care institutions moving forward. Existing literature, regulations, and policies on medical marijuana (MMJ) use in health care settings were searched, reviewed, analyzed, and distilled. As a consequence of legislative inconsistencies, there is insufficient clarity and resultant challenges regarding MMJ usage, prescription, possession, education, and research-related policies for health care stakeholders across the United States. Coupled with limited scientific evidence on the clinical efficacy of MMJ, the needs of the patient and the quality of health care delivery may be affected as hospitals balance the competing risks of being legislatively compliant while protecting the rights of patients and health care employees. There is a recognized need to better define acceptable MMJ policies and regulations in health care settings that are evidence-based, legally compliant, and adequately address the needs of both patients and providers. Given the complexity of the legal and policy landscape, there are potential opportunities for improvement, including in medical education and training, research, and usage oversight of MMJ for stakeholders in the United States.
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