News

Brookings Institute: Fixing “Medical Marijuana Mess”

Brookings Institute: Fixing “Medical Marijuana Mess”

By Russ Belville - April 12, 2016

John Hudak, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, sat down with The Russ Belville Show to discuss his new essay, “The Medical Marijuana Mess: A Prescription For Fixing a Broken Policy.

One of the aspects of the mess Hudak describes is the plight of so-called medical marijuana refugees who flee their repressive state to seek cannabis medicine in another state. Hudak writes:

Over time, however, Jennifer’s condition worsened. Sporadic eye twitches gave way to dramatically more frequent, more noticeable seizures. Some days, these small seizures would occur in dense clusters—close together and in rapid succession. There were days when Jennifer had more than 300 seizures, as many as 15‐50 of them in the space of an hour. On New Year’s Eve 2011, one of those clusters led to a more dangerous, full‐body grand mal seizure. This was her first grand mal seizure, but it would not be her last. Soon she was having repeat episodes.

The Collins family had come face‐to‐face with a public policy that threatened the well‐being of their daughter. They’d discovered a substance that might provide her much needed medical help, but their government—at both federal and state levels—told them she was not allowed to have it. Laws intended to limit drug abuse, stop trafficking, and combat cartels were keeping sick children (and adults) from trying a drug with the potential to benefit them. Patrick and Beth Collins are not the criminals that America’s drug laws were intended to stop, but if they had provided Jennifer with CBD oil, they would have been criminals nonetheless.

The Collinses had to choose between remaining together in Virginia and watching their daughter suffer, or breaking up their family, violating federal law, and getting Jennifer the medical marijuana they hoped would help her.


In the discussion, Hudak outlines the practical policy steps that must be taken at the federal level to enable the states to move forward on regulating marijuana.