On Jan. 26, 2016, Americans for Safe Access announced that it had issued its annual report, an analysis of state medical marijuana laws from a patient’s perspective.
The report, “Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,” is a 129-page document that identifies the qualifying conditions for each state medical marijuana program, as well as state-by-state grades for each jurisdiction. The ASA calculated each state’s grade by evaluating patient rights, access to medical marijuana, ease of navigation, functionality and product safety.
ASA’s report is meant to provide insight on existing medical marijuana programs as a means of informing future state-level policy decisions, whether lawmakers are interested in revising an existing program or launching a new program.
“Too often, patients are denied life-saving treatments solely because they are using medical cannabis,” said Marc Levine, California Assemblymember. “It is imperative for state lawmakers to take advantage of vital resources like ASA’s report to improve their state programs.”
“It is imperative that we ensure that new and existing programs adopt regulations and standards that provide patients with safe medicine while protecting their rights,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA. “This report will help policymakers create and maintain programs that put the patients first.”
While some states have expanded or improved their medical marijuana programs in the past year, no state earned higher than a B+ in the report, with the average grade being a D-.
New Mexico, Illinois and California were the only three states whose medical marijuana programs earned a B+. New Mexico made the grade by increasing the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Illinois made a noteworthy move by implementing some of the best product safety regulations in the nation.
California earned its high mark because Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in 2015, creating the first regulatory framework for the state medical marijuana industry since it became legal in 1996. Because California’s roll out of the MMRSA will have a manifold impact on industry participants, the California Cannabis Business Expo in San Francisco is holding multiple panels on the MMRSA this March so lawmakers, entrepreneurs and investors can adapt to this pivotal legislation and continue to meet patients’ needs.