Structural barriers in access to medical marijuana in the USA-a systematic review protocol

Celina I. Valencia, Ibitola O. Asaolu, John E. Ehiri, Cecilia Rosales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: There are 43 state medical marijuana programs in the USA, yet limited evidence is available on the demographic characteristics of the patient population accessing these programs. Moreover, insights into the social and structural barriers that inform patients' success in accessing medical marijuana are limited. A current gap in the scientific literature exists regarding generalizable data on the social, cultural, and structural mechanisms that hinder access to medical marijuana among qualifying patients. The goal of this systematic review, therefore, is to identify the aforementioned mechanisms that inform disparities in access to medical marijuana in the USA. Methods: This scoping review protocol outlines the proposed study design for the systematic review and evaluation of peer-reviewed scientific literature on structural barriers to medical marijuana access. The protocol follows the guidelines set forth by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) checklist. Discussion: The overarching goal of this study is to rigorously evaluate the existing peer-reviewed data on access to medical marijuana in the USA. Income, ethnic background, stigma, and physician preferences have been posited as the primary structural barriers influencing medical marijuana patient population demographics in the USA. Identification of structural barriers to accessing medical marijuana provides a framework for future policies and programs. Evidence-based policies and programs for increasing medical marijuana access help minimize the disparity of access among qualifying patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154
JournalSystematic reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 7 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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