Is a lack of universal healthcare pushing medical marijuana legalisation in the US?

Posted on May 18 2016

Something strange is happening in the US compared to the rest of the world. Although some parts of the US have led the fight against legalization of marijuana for years, and the US has often had harsh views towards drugs, the US stands head and shoulders past the rest of the world when it comes to using marijuana for medical reasons.

With the signing of a new medical marijuana law in Louisiana, 25 States in the US now offer the ability to use medical marijuana. This ranges from just cannabis oils for a small range of illnesses, to smokable herbal cannabis for a much larger range of illnesses, chronic and not so chronic. Compared to the rest of the world, this is far more availability for medical cannabis than most other western countries. Laws in the few countries in Europe who do allow medical cannabis tend to be very limiting and expensive.

So what causes the difference? Why are people far more vocal in the US for medicinal marijuana compared to those in other countries, where even though people could benefit greatly from its use, it remains illegal, such as in the UK. One of the main differences could be the lack of universal healthcare in the US. 

The UK has a National Healthcare System that means people can receive fairly prompt treatment without having to pay (apart from of course, through their taxes). This means that often, it is much easier than in the US for people without a lot of money to receive ongoing medical treatment, which could cost thousands of dollars in prescription drugs alone in the the US. This means that often people in the US are left looking for an alternative, and that is where cannabis has stepped in.

For people who are unable to go and get insurance for their prescriptions in the US, or for those with insurance but without the ability to pay the long term premiums for chronic illnesses, cannabis is a fantastic alternative. When this alternative is necessary to survive, people have been far more vocal about advocating for its use. In the UK, because people can receive conventional medical treatment quicker and easier, the knowledge of the uses of cannabis in a medical capacity hasn’t spread as quickly.



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