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By Alicia Wallace and Polly Washburn for The Cannabist
The majority of U.S. states now have a medical marijuana law in place, but the laws don’t yet go far enough, a national medical marijuana patient advocacy group says.
Americans for Safe Access recently released the latest iteration of its “Medical Marijuana Access in the United States” annual report card, in which the organization conducts a state-by-state analysis of medical marijuana laws and programs.
A total of 19 states received a grade from B-minus to B-plus in the report, up from 12 states the year before, ASA authors noted.
“As of 2017, no state cannabis laws are within the ‘A’ range. Only a small minority of states currently include ASA’s criteria of protections and rights that we believe all patients should be afforded under the law,” Steph Sherer, ASA executive director, said in a statement.
The organization measured each state by how well laws and regulations meet medical marijuana patients’ needs across five categories:
- Patient rights and civil protection from discrimination: Includes aspects such as protection from arrest, employment safeguards, parental rights and reciprocity.
- Access to medicine: Includes aspects such as distribution programs, access to dried flowers, delivery, local bans, THC limits, CBD minimums.
- Ease of navigation: Includes aspects such as qualifying conditions, ability to add new conditions, reasonable access to minors, fees.
- Functionality: Includes aspects such as access to cultivation or dispensaries, legal protections, financial hardship waivers, insurance coverage.
- Consumer safety and provider requirements: Includes aspects such as staff training, storage protocols, security protocols, labeling.
ASA assigned a potential 100 points for each category and gave up to 25 bonus points to states that made what the organization viewed as statutory or regulatory improvements.
The number of states receiving a failing grade remained at 17. According to the report authors, “This is partly due to a fairly large number of states that only allow a limited scope of CBD products.”