Medical Marijuana – State by State Confusion

By Ed Coghlan

Not all the states are the same.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has issued Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws.

It shows the vast array of differing state medical cannabis programs from the patient point of view. According to the press release, it will provide state lawmakers with timely tools they need to improve their medical cannabis programs to meet the needs of the patients.

The Harris Poll reports 81% of Americans favor the legalization of medical marijuana.  Nineteen states introduced legislation to legalize medical marijuana during the year. In addition, many of the twenty three states with current medical marijuana laws passed legislation to expand or improve their programs in 2015, including New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, California, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Other states, like Nevada and Vermont, expanded and improved their programs through new regulations.

“Too often, patients are denied life-saving treatments solely because they are using medical cannabis,” said California Assemblymember Marc Levine, champion of the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act (AB 258).

The report uses a point system to grade each medical marijuana law on: 1) patients’ rights and protection from discrimination, 2) access to medicine, 3) ease of navigation, 4) functionality, and 5) product safety protocols. The report  found that while many states have important elements helpful to patients, no state has yet established an ideal, comprehensive program.

Michael McGuffin,  President of AHPA, notes, “The report highlights how best practice guidance such as the Cannabis Committee’s Recommendations to Regulators documents can assist states in establishing regulations that ensure the quality and safety of cannabis products.”

ASA is asking their members to share the report with their state representatives. “With the increased interest in medical cannabis access around the country, it is imperative that we ensure that new and existing programs adopt regulations and standards that provide patients with safe medicine while protecting their rights,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “This report will help policymakers create and maintain programs that put the patients first.”

How did your state do?

Letter-grades for all 23 state laws and Washington, D.C.: Alaska (D-), Arizona (B-), California (B+), Colorado (B), Connecticut (C+), Delaware (C), Hawaii (B), Illinois (B+), Maine (B-), Maryland (B), Massachusetts (B), Michigan (D+), Minnesota (C), Montana (D-), Nevada (B), New Hampshire (C), New Jersey (C), New Mexico (B+), New York (C), Oregon (B), Rhode Island (C-), Vermont (D+), Washington (B+), and the District of Columbia (C).

See your state in the list—tell us what you think?

If your state is not there—why do you think it hasn’t yet approved medical marijuana?

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