Online pharmacies have sprung up in locations all over the world. They are big business in the U.S., especially among Canadian operations that offer American customers lower prices on some of the most commonly used prescription medications. Yet despite their success, online pharmacies still cannot help users of medical marijuana. You cannot buy the drug online; at least not legally.

Dozens of states and the District of Columbia now allow for the use of medical marijuana. But state and federal laws are very strict. This is the primary reason you cannot buy medical marijuana online. The law doesn’t allow for it.

Medical marijuana is a legally sensitive topic in this country. Why? Because federal and state laws conflict. That may change at some point in the future, but for now, conflicting laws make it impossible for an organization like Canada Drugs Direct to ship medical marijuana to U.S. customers.

A Schedule I Drug

The federal government classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug with passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. There are very few drugs classified as Schedule I. Nonetheless, these are drugs that the government considers highly dangerous and potentially addictive, but without any known medical value.

Proponents of medical marijuana would beg to differ. They cite all sorts of medical benefits ranging from treatment of epileptic seizures to easing chronic pain. They believe that there are enough medical uses for cannabis to have the drug decriminalized and rescheduled at the federal level.

Until that happens, it is illegal under federal law to grow, possess, or distribute marijuana in any form. That is reason enough to prevent online pharmacies from selling medical marijuana. Doing so would violate federal law and result in license suspension or revocation.

Even if the federal government decriminalizes medical marijuana in the future, online pharmacies could still have problems with state laws. Some states would openly welcome shipping medical marijuana to local patients. Others would not.

A Patchwork of Laws

The difficulty with state medical marijuana laws lies in their patchwork nature. Simply put, the states have different rules regarding everything from marijuana growing to how patients obtain it. In many states, like Utah for example, it is illegal to bring medical marijuana into the state. All products sold there must also be grown there.

Even though medical marijuana is completely legal in Utah for certain qualifying conditions, an online pharmacy located outside of the state could not legally ship to Utah patients – even if the drug were rescheduled at the federal level.

Prescriptions Are Not Written

Federal and state laws notwithstanding, online pharmacies have one additional issue relating to medical marijuana. They can only fill valid prescriptions written by licensed medical providers. In the case of medical marijuana, doctors do not actually write prescriptions. Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug prevents them from doing so. The best they can do is recommend the drug.

That leaves online pharmacies in a precarious position. Even if they wanted to offer medical marijuana, the lack of a legally recognized prescription would present a problem. Online pharmacies are not at liberty to accept medical cannabis cards as prescription substitutes. And without a prescription, they will not dispense drugs.

For the time being, you cannot buy medical marijuana online. That may change if Washington decriminalizes marijuana at some point down the road. But even at that, the states would have to reconcile their different laws and allow doctors to begin writing prescriptions before online sales could commence.

The best bet for current medical marijuana users is a local dispensary. Perhaps someday, buying online will be possible.