The 2021 Americans for Safe Access State of the States Report, to be released next month, will feature new report card formats and scoring that highlight key areas of medical cannabis policy that affect patient needs.
ASA’s updated grading rubric emphasizes the many issues that are still blocking millions of patients from access. The new report cards adds emphasis on civil rights and patient protections, affordability, health and social equity, and product safety while also giving penalties for states that have policies that are actively harmful to medical cannabis patients.
Two new sections have been added for 2021: Affordability and Health and Social Equity. Scoring has been updated to double the weight of the Consumer Protection and Product Safety section. In addition, states can now lose points for policies that limit patient choice or access, such as bans on THC, limits on retail access, no system for adding qualifying conditions, and giving regulatory preference to non-medical use.
ASA’s new grading criteria and guidelines for better meeting the needs of medical cannabis patients debuted at the 2021 National Conference of State Legislatures in Tampa, Florida. This venue gave us the opportunity to meet directly with lawmakers from across the country and set their expectations for how their state’s medical cannabis access will be graded.
“It is no longer enough for states to simply allow medical use. They must also provide medical cannabis patients with the same rights and protections as every other medical patient in the state,” said Abbey Roudebush, Director of Government Affairs at ASA. “Access is not just about being able to purchase cannabis from a dispensary. If a patient can lawfully access cannabis as a treatment option, but can still face eviction, loss of employment, or loss of custody rights, the state is failing its citizens.”
Since 2014, ASA’s annual State of the States report has assessed the strength of medical cannabis programs by assigning grades to each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. While most states have established some form of a medical cannabis program, none have yet implemented policies to fully ensure that medical cannabis patients and consumers have safe, legal, and affordable access to cannabis.