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Washington, DC -- Today, during the National Cannabis Policy Summit online event, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is releasing an important report titled, “2020 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States”. Every year, ASA spends months comparing every medical cannabis program in the United States with the purpose of analyzing which programs are doing well, where they are failing, and how the state programs can be improved to best serve the needs of patients.
The nearly 200-page report provides a detailed analysis of medical cannabis programs on an ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale. States were assessed in five categories: 1) Patient rights and civil protections; 2) Access to medicine; 3) Ease of navigation; 4) Functionality; and 5) Consumer safety and provider requirements.
Report findings show that the impact of COVID on medical cannabis was immense this year. However, it wasn’t all bad news. Thanks in part to ASA’s efforts, governors and medical cannabis directors in several states put in place temporary regulations that further protected patients while also guaranteeing no disruption to safe access to medical cannabis for patients. Five states - Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island - all received the maximum score in the COVID category for introducing or maintaining pre-existing policies that preserved or improved functional patient access during the pandemic.The difficulties COVID presented to safe access for patients highlighted the many needs for patients that were needed even before the COVID pandemic hit the country. Curbside pickup, delivery, and telehealth were temporary regulations many states put in place to ensure continued access to medicine.
Oregon and Oklahoma received top marks for their medical cannabis programs, receiving an ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively. Meanwhile, the 14 states that have CBD oil or low THC oil exclusive programs received all ‘F’s. While this is certainly preferable to no recognition or protection for cannabis use at all, these systems are failing to meet the needs of medical cannabis patients. Other report findings also show that there are many state programs that are failing patients, including some states which have legalized cannabis for adult use.
Feedback survey responses from medical cannabis patients across the country included in the report reveals that affordability remains the single greatest challenge that patients face. While some states have worked to clarify the role of insurance and insurance companies when it comes to medical cannabis, no state has yet adopted a law that permits or requires insurance companies to cover the costs.
“Access to medical cannabis has come a long way since California passed Proposition 215 in 1996. However, this report shows us that while medical cannabis programs grow throughout the country, states are still failing to provide programs that fulfill the needs of all patients,” said Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. “That is why as part of this report, we do not just analyze the programs, but also provide state legislatures across the country distinct methods to improve their medical cannabis programs.”
“We will continue to work to improve state medical cannabis programs using tools like this report, but passing comprehensive federal cannabis legislation is the only way to truly meet the needs of all patients in the US,” said Steph Sherer, president of Americans for Safe Access. For a look at our recommendations on how to end the federal conflict, through an Office of Medical Cannabis federal oversight, read our Model Federal Legislation report.
Link to full report: www.SafeAccessNow.org/SoS
Link to blog on Top 5 Key Takeaways from SoS Report: www.SafeAccessNow.org/SoS20_blog