There are several reasons why it is necessary to pass decriminalization policies alongside medical cannabis programs. First, these policies can protect medical cannabis patients from being criminalized for using a legal treatment. In states where medical cannabis is legal, patients may still be at risk of arrest and prosecution if they possess or use cannabis outside the parameters of the medical cannabis program. Decriminalization policies can provide additional protection by reducing or eliminating criminal penalties for possession and use.
Second, decriminalization policies can reduce the burden on the criminal justice system. In states where medical cannabis is legal, law enforcement may still enforce possession and use laws for individuals using cannabis legally for medical purposes. Decriminalization policies can reduce the number of cannabis-related arrests and prosecutions, freeing up resources to focus on more serious crimes.
Finally, decriminalization policies can increase public acceptance of medical cannabis programs by reducing stigma. By reducing or eliminating criminal penalties for possession and use, these policies can shift the public perception of cannabis from a criminalized substance to a legitimate medical treatment option. This can increase support for medical cannabis programs and make it easier for patients to access treatment.
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