2020 ASA Year in Review
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- The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.
- ASA was founded in 2002, by medical cannabis patient Steph Sherer, as a vehicle for patients to advocate for the acceptance of cannabis as medicine.
- ASA has over 150,000 active supporters in all 50 states and is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to medical cannabis.
- ASA works to overcome political, social and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers.
- ASA’s Website includes educational information and support resources for patients, caregivers, providers, researchers, and legal and medical professionals
Action Policy and Advocacy
- In January and February, ASA worked with medical cannabis advocates to advocate for Maryland pediatric access to cannabis on school campuses for students who need to use cannabis during school hours to manage their health condition or mitigate symptoms. ASA’s Executive Director also testified before the Maryland General Assembly in favor of legislation to facilitate such access.
- In March, the coronavirus pandemic required us to move this year’s 2020 National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference from in-person to an online format. The online format allowed us to make participation in the conference much more affordable and accessible to all.
- In March, when many businesses were ordered to close due to COVID-19, ASA immediately sprung into action holding an emergency national meeting to gather information about issues that are affecting patients and businesses. On March 16, ASA sent a letter to elected officials and state medical cannabis program directors urging them to take action to protect patient access and the medical cannabis supply chain, including classifying cannabis businesses as “essential services.” Other recommendations requested included tax relief for patients and cannabis businesses, guidance for dispensaries on temporary changes such as deliveries and increased purchase limits, and extension of program identification card expiration dates. This advocacy resulted in medical cannabis being declared “essential” by 28 states with many of ASA’s recommendations adopted, improving the lives of patients under lock-down.
- In March, ASA created a COVID-19 resource page with recommendations for patients, guidelines for officials, and a call to action.
- In March, as a thank you to all the businesses and employees working during the pandemic to help others, ASA offered all essential businesses and their employees a free year of ASA membership.
- In April, ASA announced the launch of their new campaign: No Patient Left Behind. The focus of this campaign is to help raise awareness of the millions of people who should be able to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes, yet still find themselves without access.
- In April, ASA’s PFC program hosted a free COVID-19 safety training for cannabis workers. This 1-hour webinar provided information on health and sanitation best practices for cannabis industry workers that have been deemed essential.
- In September, ASA filed an amicus brief in support of the petition for certiorari in the matter of Washington v. Barr to highlight the plight of medical patients who face numerous restrictions in accessing and using medical cannabis.
- In September, ASA published its 2020 State of the States Report that provides a detailed analysis of the state of medical cannabis programs in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories on an ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale.
- In September and October, ASA worked with the Commonwealth of Virginia to advise on important medical cannabis policy areas to improve while the state organized its approach to adult-use.
- In October, ASA partnered with Leaf411 on a Medical Cannabis Affordability Program. Recognizing that medical cannabis expenses represent a significant barrier to access this program helps patients in need access medical cannabis.
- In December, ASA worked with coalition partners and congressional leaders to support passage of HR 3797 - the Medical Marijuana Research Act, and S 2032 - Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act. These bills were approved by their respective chambers unanimously, signaling that Congress is ready to move forward on cannabis, and that the starting point will be research and medical rather than adult-use.
- In December, ASA helped to pass the historic MORE Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. ASA’s work with Rep. Lou Correa ensured that the bill included language supporting the research of medical cannabis for our nation’s veterans (HR 712).
- In December, ASA helped maintain the rights of residents of the City and County of San Francisco, CA to utilize smokeable/whole plant cannabis in treating their health conditions when the Board of Supervisors considered a proposal to permanently prohibit this activity.
- Thanks to the rapid response of ASA’s advocates in addition to our long-standing efforts at the UN, the UN removed cannabis from Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act, in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization. This recognition of cannabis’s medical importance will pave the way for further cannabis research.
Education, Training, and Product Safety
- In March, ASA coauthored an article in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research calling attention to the regulatory conflict between FDA approval of a CBD drug and the widespread availability of unregulated hemp-derived CBD products, and proposed solutions based on labeling standards for other products.
- In March, in response to the COVID pandemic, PFC rapidly developed and deployed a training curriculum focused on safety and hygiene. In April this course was initially offered as a free online webinar available to all.
- In April, ASA's PFC program started the process of obtaining ISO 17065 accreditation as a certifying body that certifies products, processes and services. Once completed in early 2021, PFC will be the first independent compliance company to obtain this international accreditation in the cannabis industry.
- In August, ASA partnered with The Cannigma podcast to help bring ASA education and advocacy to new audiences. This bi-monthly podcast features original and unique ASA content and the podcast is informed by ASA’s objectives.
- In September, ASA hosted the Medical Cannabis Symposium for Pediatric Neurological Conditions, providing a forum for physicians, parents of children utilizing cannabis for treatment/symptom management to discuss challenges, solutions and ongoing engagement with state and local governments and local educational agencies to break down barriers and improve outcomes for children needing cannabis on school campuses.
- In October, ASA participated in ASTM International’s Global Workshop on Cannabis/Hemp Standardization to provide an overview of the patchwork of approaches to standardization offered by U.S. states, and provide direction to state and federal regulators on the need to organize comprehensive standardization across medical cannabis product testing and labeling to accurately capture plant compound and terpene volumes as well as establish acceptable levels of molds, pesticides, contaminants and heavy metals.
- In 2020, the PFC program was able to issue new certifications to CannaSafe Laboratories for Health and Sanitation and to Viridis Laboratories for Laboratory operations. We also signed on several new clients who have pending certifications, those clients are The Botanical Company, Nuka Foods, PA Options for Wellness, and ForwardExtract.
- In 2020, the PFC program had 2 laboratories, PhytaTech (Kaycha) and Keystone State Testing, complete the dual PFC/ISO 17025 accreditation through A2LA. CannaSafe Laboratories also renewed their laboratory certification and ForwardGro is renewed their cultivation certification.
- In 2020, PFC updated our Core Cannabis Training series, which includes the courses Cannabinoids as Medicine, Understanding Cannabis Law, and Business Operations as well as State Cannabis Compliance Training courses for Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
- In 2020, PFC created a new enrichment course for Health and Sanitation.
- In March, ASA unveiled a new report on best approaches to resolving the conflict of laws between the federal and state governments regarding the regulation of medical cannabis. The report, Ending the Federal Conflict: Changing the Paradigm on Medical Cannabis, calls for either descheduling cannabis or rescheduling it to a new classification that would allow for cannabis to be used as a frontline medication. ASA is also urging the creation of a new federal agency, the Office of Medical Cannabis Control (OMCC) that would have centralized regulatory authority over medical cannabis research, production, and distribution.
- In September, ASA published our 2020 State of the States Report. This annual analysis and comparison of medical cannabis programs across states featured two new additions: the scoring of state COVID responses and the addition of End Pain Not Lives scoring. This report marked the first time ASA has issued an A grade to a state medical cannabis program.
- In November, ASA updated our Medical Cannabis Patients Guide to U.S. Travel. The 2020 guide now includes updates for states with dedicated reciprocity programs and those with adult-use laws, as well as information on how the five new 2020 state ballot initiatives will impact non-resident patients.
If you like what you see here, please consider donating to help us succeed in 2021!