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Americans for Safe Access’s (ASA) State of the States report evaluates each state cannabis program from a patient perspective and assigns a grade that reflects patient rights and access to medical cannabis. ASA has released the report annually since 2014 and included two new core categories in the rubric for 2021. This year marks 25 years since the first implementation of a state cannabis law in the US and 20 years since ASA began working with state officials on medical cannabis laws.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) recently released their annual report on the medical cannabis laws in each US state and territory, called the State of the States report (1). ASA distributes the report each year to legislators and regulators in every state as well as to hundreds of health organizations and patient organizations with the goal of providing a solution-oriented platform for advocating patient needs and rights to elected officials.
The report evaluated the effectiveness of each state cannabis program from a patient perspective and assigns a grade using a rubric that reflects key categories affecting patients, such as:
New to the report this year, were the evaluations of affordability as well as health and social equity. In addition, penalties were included for policies that actively harm patients.
In tandem with the report, ASA also hosted an editorial board webinar intended to provide an in-depth analysis of the data and a broader understanding of the issues that patients currently face. The webinar opened with comments from Steph Sherer, founder and President of ASA, who stated, “This report definitely underlines the amount of work we all still have to do.”
The webinar also featured commentary from Pennsylvania State Representative Chris Rabb and Nikki Lawley, a traumatic brain injury survivor, LPN, and medical cannabis patient. Abbey Roudebush, ASA’s Director of Government Affairs, led the deep dive analysis into the data. The average grade among states was 44%, the highest score was 76% and a 0% grade was given to the states with full prohibition on cannabis. Roudebush also listed several important takeaways to remember while analyzing the data. For example, she noted that most medical cannabis programs in the US are growing and accepting more patients, the need to maintain and promote medical cannabis programs while legalizing recreational use is still important, and also that state medical cannabis programs cannot reach their full potential without change in federal law.
“With a decline in legislative improvements in state medical cannabis programs, millions of patients are left with limited or no access. It is ASA’s hope that the report will inspire a renewed commitment to patients by policymakers to improve state laws and end the federal prohibition once and for all,” said Debbie Churgai, Executive Director of ASA.
For more information on the report or ASA, please visit: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/