Blog Voices from the Frontlines
Every year, Americans for Safe Access spends months comparing every medical cannabis program in the United States with the purpose of analyzing what each program is doing well, where it is failing, and how the state program can improve to best serve the needs of patients. In 2020, this meant assessing the medical cannabis programs of 47 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories. The nearly 200-page report provides a detailed analysis of the state of medical cannabis programs around the country. 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.
An interview with Debbie Churgai by Abby Stoddard, PharmD, MBA on behalf of The Client Centered Network.
Oregon is one of the few but growing number of states that have both a medical cannabis program and an adult use (recreational) program, and users of cannabis medicine can be found in either group. Enrolling in Oregon's medical marijuana program (OMMP) requires an application, physician and patient documentation, and a fee, but does have benefits. Patients in the OMMP program do not have to pay sales tax, are eligible to receive free product, and many dispensaries give OMMP members preference on things like delivery, parking, and in-store service. If you are considering applying to the OMMP program please check out our resource page, especially our cost calculator, to see if it might be a good fit for your situation.
Whether you enroll in the OMMP or not, I always encourage those using cannabis medicine to keep their health care providers in the loop - whether that's your naturopath, your therapist, your chiropractor or your primary care physician. Just like prescription medication, diet and exercise, cannabis can impact other therapies and treatments you may be using, so it's important to make sure whoever you're working with has the full picture and can monitor your progress or make adjustments if needed.
Of course having the conversation about cannabis can be complicated, intimidating and nerve racking. Medical cannabis has been legal in Oregon since 1998, but there can still be stigma, misinformation, and entrenched opinions on its use in the mainstream medical community. That is slowly but surely changing for the better, but in the mean time I wanted to speak to someone who knows the ins and outs of this dilemma and who can offer even more resources to empower users of cannabis medicine. I sat down (virtually of course) with Debbie Churgai, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access to get some tips and talking points to help patients start this conversation. A big thank you to Debbie for her time and to ASA for all that they do. Read on for more on the free resources ASA provides to empower you to direct your cannabis care with your provider team.
Adapted from The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge, 2019) by Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin
As with all things involving social controversy, dispute over what to properly call the plant known by the botanical name Cannabis Sativa L. comes with the territory. As a forbidden intoxicant, it attracts more slang and code names than most—from “muggles” and “weed” in the 1920’s, “reefer” and “pot” in the 30’s, and “grass” in the 40’s to today’s “dank” and “chronic.” Putting aside colloquialisms, the three terms commonly used in the U.S. are marijuana, cannabis, and hemp. For at least the last half-century, marijuana has been the most prevalent term, but cannabis is gaining currency. Patients often use both marijuana and cannabis to refer to the plant, with many calling it marijuana, the name used in many state laws and regulations, as well as federal law, but that is changing rapidly. That change is reflected in the Google search results produced for the terms. In January 2018, “medical marijuana” appeared roughly 1,750,000 times to a mere 567,000 hits for “medical cannabis.” As of June 2020, “medical marijuana” appears roughly 143,000,000 times and “medical cannabis” 174,000,000 times. That’s a remarkable increase in both the use of the term, as well as the amount of online material about medical use.
ASA offers solution to DOJ research block: Our comments on the DEA’s proposed rules - Americans for Safe Access
On March 23, the Drug Enforcement Administraction (DEA) published a proposed rulemaking—“Controls to Enhance the Cultivation of Marihuana for Research in the United States”—in the Federal Register (85 FR 16292), involving who can grow cannabis in bulk for research purposes. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) submitted comments which suggested several amendments to the provisions of these regulations governing the bulk marijuana manufacturers program. In the comments, we suggest to federal legislators and the DEA that a new agency be established that has no history in prosecution of the activities of which the DEA seeks to become the sole enforcer. This new agency, the Office of Medical Cannabis Control (OMCC), would be tasked with overseeing not only the requirements of the research program, but would also enable cultivators that are already licensed in medical cannabis states to provide high quality medical cannabis to researchers, thereby increasing the diversity of products that can be used in research studies and clinical trials.
While most cannabis and hemp businesses understand that they must follow a set of guidelines and implement certain quality control factors into their daily operations, many do not understand the depth of compliance and documentation needed to meet all state and federal requirements. Countless operators complain about the cost of compliance, without factoring in the costs of non-compliance. As enforcement activities increase across states and as the federal government establishes guidelines for hemp and CBD production, it is more important than ever that businesses take the necessary steps to reach and maintain compliance.
While many of us are stuck inside, safe in our homes, most essential workers are still making their commutes into work every day. Whether they’re preparing the food we eat, saving lives in the ICU, delivering packages, or working in a dispensary to provide medicine to patients; these individuals are putting themselves at risk to ensure that the essential services we rely on remain open.
As a token of appreciation to all those that are putting their lives at risk to help service others, we have created a list of 5 ways you can thank the essential workers in your life.
In March 2020, the United Nations Committee on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was expected to vote on the WHO’s recommendations on the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis products during their annual meeting in Vienna, Austria. However, the CND decided to delay the vote until its next meeting in December 2020. This marks the second time the vote was delayed.
The CND is responsible for implementing international drug control treaties as well as making decisions about scheduling new substances as well as changing the scheduling of drugs. The CND bases these decisions on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO makes their recommendations on the scheduling of drugs based on the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) critical review document.
Medical Cannabis Patient Scores Important Victory in Employment Discrimination Lawsuit against Amazon in New Jersey - Americans for Safe Access
Employment protections for medical cannabis patients in New Jersey could soon be strengthened following an important win for the plaintiff in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Amazon last year -- D.J.C. v. Amazon Com DEDC, LLC, et al. The federal court ruling, issued earlier this month, will allow the lawsuit to proceed in state court, paving the way for a more employee-friendly resolution of the case.
With everything happening in the news lately, we want to present some scientific data to help medical cannabis patients and adult-use consumers make informed decisions in regard to cannabis products available, product safety, and personal health. Each person’s health situation is unique, and medical cannabis patients should discuss with their doctor or healthcare provider the best approach to prevent and treat current illnesses while potentially battling influenza or coronavirus.
Office of Medical Cannabis Control: A New Way to End the State/Federal Conflict Regarding Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access
There are now over 3 million medical cannabis patients across the country; ninety-one percent of Americans now live in states with some form of access to medical cannabis, while sixty-six of American adults are in favor of full legalization. Despite this, cannabis retains its Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government considers it to be a dangerous, highly addictive substance with no medical value. This continues to cause numerous conflicts between the federal government and the states that have rolled out these health programs for their citizens. The only protection for these programs in federal law is the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment found in the Commerce Justice Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill which, as a budget bill, is subject to change each year. Plans for legalization at the federal level by different means have been introduced for years with little impact; H.R.3884, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, was the first and only bill of this nature to clear a Congressional committee. It is time for a new approach to end the federal conflict on cannabis policy.