Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christopher Atkinson


Therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis are well documented in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. There is not, however, a nationally consistent delivery system, which has prevented many patients from realizing these benefits. Using policy feedback theory as the foundation, the purpose of this general qualitative study was to better understand how state-level regulatory efforts in medicinal cannabis may provide guidance on formulating national public policies that are beneficial to patients. This study compared 3 core tenets of NORML, an authority in the cannabis industry, against the policies of 3 states with exemplary state medical cannabis programs. The tenets included access to whole-plant cannabis, wide latitude for doctors to decide treatment regimens, and the right to cultivation for personal use. Data collected from publicly available documents such as legislative archives, state government websites, cannabis coalition groups, and media coverage of medicinal cannabis legislation were deductively coded and subjected to a cross-case analysis procedure. Findings indicated a lack of full alignment with NORML's core tenets as well as significant gaps between research on the efficacy of medical cannabis and the regulatory systems governing delivery within the states. Future policy makers may consider these results in devising nationwide legislation to research and recognize the medicinal use of cannabis, thus addressing the identified need for a uniform delivery system in the US for patients in need of cannabis for medical purposes. This study may contribute to positive social change through recommendations to federal legislators for creating a national government model for patient access to medicinal cannabis.