ASA Activist Newsletter - 2022 Year in Review
In the 2022 Year in Review
- First-Ever Federal Cannabis Reform Bill Expands Research
- Voters in Missouri and Maryland Expanded Cannabis Access
- Mississippi Enacted New Medical Cannabis Program
- Celebrating 20 Years of Medical Cannabis Advocacy
- 2021 State of the States Report Released
- ASA and International Cannabis Bar Assoc. Filed Brief on Trademarks
- Updated Website Launched
- Unity Conference Marked ASA's 20th Anniversary
- PFC Held Webinar on Vape Recalls and Product Safety
- Bay Area ASA Chapter Celebrated 20 Years
- Univ. of Maryland Cannabis Science Symposium Featured ASA
- MJunpacked in Las Vegas
- MJBizCon Association Day
- Crista Eggers, Nebraska
- Carla Basante, New Jersey
- Rita Lynn Lawrence, Maryland
- Kent Morrell, Tennessee
- Ron Millward, Pennsylvania
First-Ever Federal Cannabis Reform Bill Expands Research
The first cannabis reform bill to ever pass Congress was enacted at the end of 2022. The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act protects physicians who recommend medical cannabis use and expands cannabis research opportunities.
The law streamlines the federal process for approving cannabis research, and it should also increase the supply of research cannabis by expanding the federal licenses for cannabis cultivation to include research institutions, medical schools, and qualified practitioners.
The new law directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to assess the health benefits of cannabis and identify ways to facilitate research on the cannabis that is currently commercially available in many states.
Voters in Missouri and Maryland Expanded Cannabis Access
In November 2022, voters approved cannabis ballot measures in Maryland and Missouri that will expand access in those states. Both have medical cannabis programs in place. The new laws allow all adults to possess and use cannabis, removing barriers for patients. Missouri’s initiative also extends patient registrations from one year to three, allows physicians to recommend cannabis to more patients, and permits patients from out of state to access dispensaries. Missouri’s new law goes into effect December 9, 2022, while Maryland’s goes into effect in July 2023.
Mississippi Enacted New Medical Cannabis Program
On February 2, 2022, Mississippi became the 37th state to adopt a meaningful medical cannabis law. The new law, crafted by the state legislature, will allow limited access for some patients. It replaces a ballot measure more than 74% Mississippi voters approved in November 2020.For more about Mississippi’s new law and why it represents a case study in legislative obstruction, see ASA’s blog at www.safeaccessnow.org/ms_law_casestudy.
ASA Celebrates 20 Years of Advocacy
2021 State of the States Report Released
In February 2022, ASA released its annual State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States, which determined that many states continued to improve in 2021, but no state was close to doing all it can to serve the needs of its patients.At 25 years since the first medical cannabis law went into effect, the average grade among states was only 44%, with the highest score being 76%.To learn about the top 5 takeaways from the 2021 report, see ASA’s blog: www.safeaccessnow.org/sos21_blog1. The new report on safe access in 2022 will be released soon.
ASA and International Cannabis Bar Assoc. Filed Brief on Trademarks
In February 2022, Americans for Safe Access took steps to defend the intellectual property rights of the cannabis industry. ASA and the International Cannabis Bar Association (INCBA) filed an Amicus Brief arguing that cannabis and hemp products should be eligible for trademarks. Cannabis and hemp brands are currently unable to obtain trademarks on their products in the U.S. because the United States Patent Trademark Office says they violate a "lawful use requirement."
Updated Website Launched
In October, ASA launched a big website overhaul to make it more user friendly and content rich. If you have not already, check it out at safeaccessnow.org. New website highlights:
- Simplified navigation menu
- Content reorganized to make it easier to find what you are looking for
- Improved mobile-view styling
- ASA sponsors now featured on every page
Unity Conference Marked ASA's 20th Anniversary
Videos of the panels of medical cannabis experts from ASA's 10th annual Unity Conference, “Celebrating 20 Years of Advocacy,” are now available to view free online, along with video of prior conferences, at www.safeaccessnow.org/unity22_archive.
'On behalf of ASA staff, consultants, and volunteers, we want to thank everyone who was able to attend the Unity Conference as part of our larger, ongoing effort to bring the patient experience and the focus on medical cannabis back to the cannabis movement," said ASA Executive Director Debbie Churgai. "We have made each panel available to watch for free on the Unity website as well as our YouTube channel. We hope that you will continue this journey with us by sharing these presentations with your communities."
Videos include the welcome from ASA co-founder and board president Steph Sherer and Executive Director Debbie Churgai and two retrospective looks at how we got where we are today:
- "How Advocates Helped Change the Conversation of Medical Cannabis" with ASA co-founder Don Duncan, Bay Area ASA's Tony Bowles, long-time activist Paul Scott, and former ASA staffers Rebecca Saltzman (now a BART Director) and Caren Woodson.
- "Celebrating 20 Years of Medical Cannabis" recaps some of the two decades of ASA actions, projects and initiatives.
Panels that grapple with the patient experience today are:
- "What's Working for Patients" with Drs Chad Johnson and Leah Sera from the University of Maryland, Rylie Maedler of Rylie's Smile/Rylie's Sunshine and Dr Dustin Sulak.
- "Current Challenges Faced by the Medical Cannabis Marketplace and Patients" with Stormy Simon of Mother Ruggers, Ellen Lenox Smith of the US Pain Foundation, Pamela Epstein of Eden Enterprises and Dr Stephen Dahmer of Vireo Health.
- "2023 State of the States Report Preview" with ASA Government Affairs Director Abbey Roudebush covers some of what to expect for ASA's signature annual assessment of state-by-state safe access.
- "Cannabis and Cannabinoid Quality Matters" with Steph Sherer addresses the gaps in product safety requirements that can endanger patients.
Looking forward, panels that consider potential future developments are:
- "The World We Envision: Safe and Affordable Access for All" with Drs Didi Meiri of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Claude Cyr of McGill University Health Center.
- "Federal Legislation Briefing: The Cannabis Patient Equity Act" with Steph Sherer outlines the comprehensive solution ASA has proposed for ensuring safe access for all nationwide.
- "Reclaiming Patients' Role in Cannabis Policy: A Campaign to Pass Federal Legislation" with Steph Sherer, Debbie Churgai, and ASA activist Piper Lindeen.
PFC Held Webinar on Vape Recalls and Product Safety
Following recalls of cannabis vape products, Americans for Safe Access’ PFC Director Heather Despres held a free webinar on product safety and regulatory compliance. The devices heat cannabis oil extracts to a temperature that releases active ingredients in a vapor without the smoke byproducts, but contaminants and the presence of other potentially harmful substances have led to health problems and product recalls.
Bay Area ASA Chapter Celebrated 20 Years
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Americans for Safe Access marked its 20th anniversary in February 2022 with an online party. The celebration, which included a photo montage of memories, was held as a virtual gathering due to Covid.
Univ. of Maryland Cannabis Science Symposium Featured ASA
In March 2022, ASA Executive Director Debbie Churgai presented at the Medical Cannabis Science spring symposium at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy for their first-year students, and she moderated an advocacy panel.
CSC East Featured ASA Activists
Cannabis Science Conference East in Baltimore, Maryland included ASA activists in several panels of the event’s medical cannabis track. Rylie and Janie Maedler of Rylie’s Sunshine delivered a keynote address on pediatric access and were part of the panel on pediatric patients and their parents. The mother-daughter duo were featured in the May 2019 ASA Newsletter. The panel “Innovations in Cannabis Research for Veterans” featured Eryck Stamper who was featured in the November 2019 issue and Cherissa Jackson who was profiled in the November 2020 issue.
MJunpacked in Las Vegas
In September, ASA President and Founder Steph Sherer, and ASA Executive Director Debbie Churgai attended MJunpacked in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sherer spoke on a panel centering around federal cannabis legislation, while Churgai and ASA volunteers shared information with conference attendees at the expo.
MJBizCon Association Day
In October, ASA participated in MJBizCon's Associations Day in Las Vegas, Nevada. This event brought together over 40 non-profits and associations driving the industry forward. Attendees were able to meet and network with top groups and learn more about how they can get involved with our important work.
2022 Activist Profiles
ASA has compiled the profiles of more than 60 inspiring medical cannabis advocates that have run in ASA's Monthly Activist Newsletters. Each has their own page now, and they can all be seen at www.safeaccessnow.org/featured_advocates.
Crista Eggers, Nebraska. Most medical cannabis activists become advocates for safe access because they’ve had direct experience treating a medical condition with cannabis. Crista Eggers is not one of those. She became an activist because cannabis is prohibited in her state.
Carla Basante, New Jersey. Carla Basante began using cannabis about 15 years ago to manage chronic pain from a severe back injury and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. A breast cancer survivor, Carla has had two back surgeries to treat the damage caused by a bad car crash.
Rita Lynn Lawrence, Maryland. Rita Lynn Lawrence has faced a life-long struggle with painful congenital medical conditions that have proven difficult to treat. Even accepting the diagnosis was difficult. Doctors could offer no real treatment of medical solution, just palliative care.
Kent Morrell, Tennessee.Today is bonus day 1,248. That’s what Kent Morrell would say if he was talking to you now. That’s how he always begins his story — with how many days it has been since cannabis rescued him from the crippling pain and despair that had him on the brink of suicide.
Ron Millward, Pennsylvania. Ron Millward joined the Air Force at age 17, while he was still in high school. He served eight years through multiple deployments. Today, his mission is to help other veterans find ways to achieve balance after their military service.
Action Alert: Urge Congress to Pass Comprehensive Legislation Now!
Conflict between state and federal law actively harms patients by putting them in jeopardy of legal prosecution, prohibiting cost-sharing and insurance coverage, allowing discrimination, and many more issues. The new Congress can fix this and show their compassion for patients by passing comprehensive federal medical cannabis legislation now!
Send a message to your elected officials today, urging them to take action on behalf of medical cannabis patients. We've made it easy. Just click the link to be connected to your rep. www.safeaccessnow.org/passfedleg_action.
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