Which States Are Making Progress With Medical Cannabis?

This story originally appeared on Benzinga

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization working to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research recently unveiled its “2021 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States.” Since its first edition in 2014, advocates and state legislators have utilized ASA’s report to pass new legislation and regulations to improve laws.

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“The report evaluates the effectiveness of each state cannabis program from a patient perspective and assigns a grade using a rubric that reflects the key issues affecting patient access broken down into over 100 categories, including barriers to access, civil protections, affordability, health and social equity, and product safety as well as penalties for harmful policies,” reported ASA in a press release

The report offers solutions for improvement to programs including legislative and regulatory language.

Americans for Safe Access hosted a press briefing on the report, which highlights the fact that states are still falling short in creating programs that fulfill the needs of all patients (the average grade among states was only 44%, with the highest score being 76%).

RELATED: Utah Takes First Steps Into Medical Cannabis Marketplace: ‘They Saw The Will Of Their Citizens’

Drop off in legislative forward movement

“With a decline in legislative improvements in state medical cannabis programs, millions of patients are left with limited or no access,” said Debbie Churgai, ASA’s executive director. “It is ASA’s hope that the report will inspire a renewed commitment to patients by policymakers to improve state laws and end the federal prohibition once and for all.”

The ASA distributes the report to state legislators and regulators in every state, as well as hundreds of health organizations and patient organizations.

“Americans for Safe Access’ State of the States report has been an important resource for me as I work to ensure all Pennsylvanians have access to medical cannabis,” said PA State Rep Chris Rabb.

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Results and recommendations

“There were only 7 states that saw an improvement in scores from 2020 to 2021: Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Maine got the highest grade of all states: B, and Illinois a B-. They were the only two that garnered grades higher than a C,” reported The Fresh Toast.

Researchers who worked on the study recommended regulators aid government agencies in establishing sound rulemaking policies and highlighted the importance of ASA’s Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program.

The PFC is a third-party certification program for the cannabis industry, the nation’s only certification program for the AHPA and AHP standards, as well as the only ISO 17065, accredited certifying body for cannabis and hemp compliance.

“PFC utilizes the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) recommendations for botanical products, good agricultural (collection) practices (GAP), good manufacturing practices (GMP), and good laboratory practices (GLP) to thoroughly evaluate a business for compliance and is available to cannabis companies and ancillary industries,” added ASA in the report.

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