Article by Carl Wellstone, Weed News
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) have been at the forefront of the movement to implement sensible cannabis laws that benefit patients battling severe and debilitating medical conditions since the organization was founded in 2002. Led by a great advocate, Steph Sherer, ASA now has over 30,000 members in with chapters in forty different states. The Washington DC-based organization has been instrumental in progress we have seen at the federal level, such as the introduction of the bipartisan CARERS Act last session. With as much knowledge on medical cannabis policy as any group, ASA has just released its report of state medical marijuana laws and it is an interesting read that illustrates the patchwork of laws across the nation and provides a grade based upon a variety of factors.
ASA sent out a press release regarding the release of its comprehensive report:
NEW MEDICAL MARIJUANA REPORT: Americans for Safe Access Cites Widespread Improvement for State Marijuana Laws Nationwide
Major Advancement in Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Report Provides In-Depth Analysis of Current Cannabis Laws in all 44 Medical Cannabis States
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) released their annual report, Medical Marijuana Access in the United States: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws, in which U.S. states are assigned letter grades based on how well their medical cannabis program meets the needs of patients. Each state is graded according to a rubric of patient’s rights, legal constraints, and overall accessibility to medical cannabis.
The goal for this report is to provide states with recommendations that can benefit their medical cannabis programs and in turn, better provide for patients. The report also provides ways for states to compare themselves to other state programs and look for ways to improve their medical cannabis laws. To help achieve this goal, Americans for Safe Access will ask their members in all fifty states to send the report to their elected officials.
Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, explained:
“Medical cannabis laws are moving in a positive direction, but only a handful of the forty four medical cannabis states are truly meeting the needs of patients, and there are still six states where cannabis remains completely illegal for patients. In short, we’re seeing a lot of progress, but the fight is far from over. As of 2017, no state cannabis laws are within the ‘A’ range. Only a small minority of states currently include ASA’s criteria of protections and rights that we believe all patients should be afforded under the law.
“What we’re experiencing is the byproduct of a movement of doctors, scientists, patients, their families, and policymakers advocating for a patients’ safe access to medical cannabis. Every positive change in a law or regulation is the result of thousands of hours of work by these stakeholders. With 16 states improving their laws and dozens more making improvements through regulations, we are proud to report an overall positive trend for medical cannabis patients across the country.”
States such as Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are among the lowest ranking, while Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have shown the greatest improvement over 2015 laws. Despite the positive trend, no state falls within the “A” range.