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Medical Cannabis Access In The USA Evaluated

A new report analysing the effectiveness of state medical cannabis programs finds most are falling short in fulfilling needs of patients.

The USA’s first medical cannabis law passed in 1996 in California. Today, 48 states have such laws. But the nature and efficacy of programs varies greatly between states. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) last week released a report evaluating these programs from a patient perspective.

In ASA’s grading, no states received an A, let alone an A+. The best grade was B-, shared by Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and Illinois. At the other end of the grading scale, there were quite a few states that received an F; including of course those states without any medicinal cannabis program.

The average grade among states was only 46.16% (in the D range), with Maryland earning the highest score of 75.71%.

“While we can acknowledge that we have come a long way since the first medical cannabis law passed in 1996, we must also recognize that none of the state laws adopted thus far can be considered ideal from a patient’s standpoint,” says ASA.

However, ASA also recognises state policymakers and regulators have been working within a challenging environment where marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Added to that are reasonably new challenges relating to what the ASA refers to as “the seemingly federally legal, unregulated cannabinoid market.” That’s in reference to hemp derived cannabinoids such at Delta-8 THC that are created through the manipulation of cannabidiol (CBD).

Still, for all the challenges, medicinal cannabis is booming. ASA estimates there are now more than 8,000 legal medical cannabis retailers across the USA, an increase of about 1,000 since 2021. But of growing concern is with more states now allowing adult-use/recreational marijuana, many companies originally focused on medical cannabis are switching to adult-use – making it harder for patients to secure medications they’ve found to be most effective.

The ASA’s “2022 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States” can be viewed in full here – it’s well worth a read. ASA says it distributes the report to state legislators and regulators in each state, as well as hundreds of health and patient organization across the country.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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