Is it possible for individuals with prior felony convictions to obtain medical marijuana?

Is it possible for individuals with prior felony convictions to obtain medical marijuana?Felons and Medical Marijuana: A Legal Overview

In the United States, a felon is defined as someone who has been convicted of a serious crime resulting in a felony charge. These individuals typically serve a minimum jail term of one year. With the increasing legalization of medical marijuana across more than half of the states in the U.S., many people are curious about whether individuals with felony records will be able to access cannabis medicine.

The laws governing access to medical marijuana vary from state to state, making it crucial for residents to understand their local regulations and consult with their healthcare provider to determine if they qualify for medical marijuana treatment.

To provide clarity on this issue, we have compiled a brief summary of the states that explicitly permit or prohibit felons from accessing medical or recreational marijuana.

States Allowing Felons to Obtain Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis regulations are generally less restrictive compared to other rights, such as gun ownership or voting. Among the 38 states that currently have medical marijuana programs, several allow individuals with felony convictions to obtain a medical card.

Some of these states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. However, felons seeking a medical card must still meet standard requirements such as being at least 21 years old, having a qualifying medical condition, and paying any necessary licensing fees. Some states may impose additional criteria for felons, such as passing background checks, providing fingerprint scans, demonstrating non-violent convictions, or completing additional paperwork.

In certain states, individuals over the age of 21 can apply to serve as caregivers for minors who require medical cannabis. However, felons may be restricted from this role and only permitted to purchase cannabis products for personal use. Additionally, some states with medical cannabis programs may evaluate felon applications on a case-by-case basis.

States That Prohibit Felons from Accessing Medical Cannabis

As of now, only two states explicitly prohibit individuals with felony records from obtaining a medical marijuana card: Illinois and Iowa. It is worth noting that there are exceptions in Illinois for individuals with non-violent offenses unrelated to drugs.

Another common query relates to whether acquiring a new felony charge will result in the revocation of an existing medical marijuana card. The outcome can vary based on factors such as the nature of the conviction, the state’s regulations, and whether an extended legal process was involved.

New Marijuana Laws Facilitate Record Expungement for Felons

In states like California, Oregon, and Colorado where recreational marijuana has been legalized, efforts are underway to expunge previous criminal charges that have been decriminalized under recent legislation.

For instance, California has maintained a medical marijuana law for over two decades allowing individuals to register and acquire cannabis strictly for medicinal purposes. With Proposition 64’s passage, Californians can now legally enjoy recreational marijuana while certain misdemeanors (e.g., possession of small amounts of cannabis) have been decriminalized. Previously felonious activities like selling or transporting marijuana are reduced to misdemeanors carrying lesser penalties.

Proposition 64 also offers non-violent offenders – including current inmates, parolees, and ex-convicts – an opportunity to file petitions for criminal record adjustments or expungements. This initiative allows them to regain lost privileges such as employment in government roles or owning cannabis-related businesses without their past convictions hindering them during background checks.

Marijuana advocates anticipate that California’s progressive legislation will serve as a model for other states considering legalizing recreational marijuana. Notably, inmates convicted for non-violent cannabis offenses in states like Colorado may face challenges in clearing their criminal records even after cannabis legality changes.


While most legal states maintain stringent regulations regarding ex-convicts and felons’ access to medical marijuana programs, progress is evident in jurisdictions where recreational cannabis is legalized. Individuals with criminal histories are increasingly afforded opportunities for record expungement and restored privileges under evolving laws. To stay informed about developments in medical marijuana legislation across the United States and understand how it impacts different populations including felons, visit for comprehensive information and resources.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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