When Americans for Safe Access was founded in 2002, the only medical cannabis laws in the country were criminal exemption laws that allowed patients to present a letter from their doctor to get the charges dropped if they were arrested.  ASA drafted and passed the first medical cannabis access laws in 2002 in cities in the Bay Area of California. These programs were under federal attack until 2014 when ASA passed federal legislation stopping the raids, arrests, and prosecutions.

Since then, ASA has worked to pass legislation in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and most US territories and continues to work with states to improve programs and pass laws in new states and territories. In 2006, ASA opened an office in DC where we continue to advocate for a federal medical cannabis program.

In 2011, ASA teamed up with American Herbal Products Association and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia to create product safety protocols for the medical cannabis supply chain. ASA’s Patient Focused Certification program works with policymakers and regulators to incorporate these protocols into their state programs.

The policy needs of medical cannabis patients are complicated and nuanced. ASA has many resources to help policymakers navigate legislative language and regulatory needs for patients including recommendations for regulators, model legislation, and an annual report grading each of the states on how their medical cannabis programs are really working for patients.

It is important to understand that the state-by-state compassionate use programs are not the ultimate goal for medical cannabis patients; they are a triage to aide patients in finding safe cannabis products until we can change federal law, and create a national program that would include prescriptions, standardized products, and a pathway for insurance coverage.

Until there is safe access…We are Americans for Safe Access!