Happy Birthday ASA!
I am so humbled by all that we have accomplished together over the last 20 years. When we started Americans for Access, we were facing paramilitary style raids from the DEA, only 8 states had passed laws creating criminal exemptions for medical cannabis patients, the DEA was still saying that cannabis was a gateway drug and there was no legal access anywhere!
And look at the world that you have helped create!
The issue of adulterants in cannabis vape products has once again resurfaced as the Pennsylvania Office of Medical Marijuana issued a notice to medical cannabis patients on February 4, 2022 advising them of a recall of over 500 different products containing substances not suitable for inhalation. The problem was first brought to light when the VAPI (vaping associated pulmonary injury) crisis occurred in 2019, which sickened over 2,800 people and killed at least 68. The source of the outbreak was linked to the use of Vitamin E acetate and other diluents that are more likely to be found in illicit market vapes than legal market products.
25 years have passed since the first medical cannabis laws came into effect in California, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of ASA’s role in the fight for safe access. Although conditions have improved for patients significantly in the past two decades, our 2021 State of the State report clearly shows that even after 25 years, states are falling short on providing safe, legal, and affordable access to ALL patients.
Since 2014, Americans for Safe Access has been publishing the State of the States report as a tool for local advocates and policy makers to understand and improve their medical cannabis program. What this report reflects is that the state-by-state model does not address many medical or logistical needs for patients, it only serves a privileged class of Americans with the resources available to access medical cannabis. There are a litany of barriers patients still face to access, some of these include health insurance coverage, product availability, proximity to retail location, federal employees and contractors as well as veterans utilizing VA medical services exclusions, and private companies that drug test for cannabis where no state government steps in to protect them. And these only scratches the surface of the problems patients face across the country.
Each year, as we prepare to publish our State of the States report, we like to take a step back and look at the top general trends that we notice across the report.
The journey here has been a lengthy saga in the abuse of power by the prohibitionist lawmakers and bureaucrats of the Hospitality state who fought tooth and nail against the will of their constituents at every step in the process. It is evident through all of their constant obstruction that, without the overwhelming consent of the voters, state lawmakers in Mississippi would’ve never bothered to pass legislation to improve the quality of life of their constituents. Luckily for the people of Mississippi, state law allows voters to organize ballot initiative campaigns that, with enough signatures, can put important reforms directly before the voters.
Despite the Covid global crises, ASA was hard at work at the state and federal levels, and had a busy 2021. Here are just a few of the activities we accomplished last year.
On February 2, 2022, Governor Tate Reeves chose to sign SB 2095 into law, making Mississippi the 37th state to adopt medical cannabis laws. The adoption of these laws is the conclusion of a year-long struggle for the future of cannabis in Mississippi.
In November 2020, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative (74.1% of votes in favor), which authorized the state’s department of health to create a medical cannabis program. The state's legislators rejected the measure, and instead sought to pass a weakened version of the law. On January 26, 2022, the state legislature passed SB 2095, their watered down vision for medical cannabis in Mississippi.
There are loopholes written into the language that will allow individual municipalities to reject the law and keep medical cannabis illegal in their jurisdictions, and the bill limits cannabis businesses to operate in industrial or agricultural zones, which limits patient access. ASA strongly opposes both of these provisions. Patients across the state should have equitable access to this treatment option and should not be burdened by localities that wrongly choose to opt out of the law.
Check out ASA's annual recap of the important developments and events of the past year in the January issue of the ASA Activist Newsletter. ASA's 2021 Year in Review includes federal and state news and links to ASA campaigns, resources and member benefits. You'll also find new PFC training courses, certifications, and a free guide for cannabis businesses.
You'll also find links and excerpts of the year's profiles of activists who are making a difference for safe access.
Each month, the ASA Activist Newsletter covers important federal, state and local developments, what's happening with ASA, and inspiring stories of local activists. Subscribe today!
Are you allowed to travel with medical cannabis? Can you cross state lines with medical cannabis? Can you bring cannabis on a plane or train? What about a bus? While in another state, what are the rules to purchase it legally? These are just a few of the many questions that medical cannabis patients may have while travelling for the holidays.
The latest issue of the ASA Activist Newsletter has the news you need to stay informed and be an effective advocate. Updates include important federal cannabis reforms that have been signed into law or are pending before Congress, as well as PFC's new role as a GMP Certifier in New York state, a new episode of the Cannabis Enigma podcast, and a sneak peek at the revamped state report card.
You'll also find a link to the new issue of Cannabis Patient Care Magazine, a free benefit to ASA members, that this month features important information about coping with breast cancer treatment. In the activist profile, you'll meet US Army veteran Robert Head, who was one of the principal organizers for the successful Hemp for Victory event ASA sponsored at Texas Live last month.
Each month, the ASA Activist Newsletter covers important federal, state and local developments, what's happening with ASA, and inspiring stories of local activists. Subscribe today to have it delivered via email, or you can read it each month here on ASA's website.
We're excited to say the the October/November issue of Cannabis Patient Care Magazine is now available online. You'll want to make sure you check out the first article, my interview with Dr. Marisa Weiss.
I got her thoughts on how patients can talk to their doctor or oncologist about medical cannabis. It was great to hear her perspective, as a doctor, on an issue that we talk a lot about from the patient side.
And for ASA Members, if you haven't already activated you free subscription to Cannabis Patient Care Magazine please take just a moment to claim this free benefit for members.