On February 2nd, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) held an editorial/press briefing to present their 2022 State of the States report, which graded each US state and four territories on patient access to cannabis. ASA is the nation’s largest member-based organization promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
In a recent press briefing (1,2), Americans for Safe Access (ASA) shared results from their annual 2022 State of the States (SOS) report.The SOS report started in 2014 and is published yearly, with the goal of looking at access to medical cannabis across the US and territories. The report provides a snapshot of medical cannabis access from a patient perspective plus includes other substantial materials for patients and advocates. “The following report is meant to be a tool for policymakers and regulators to see gaps in their programs, offer solutions to these gaps, and give advocates a resource to articulate those gaps in order to work with their policymakers to find solutions,” wrote ASA Founder and President, Steph Sherer in her introductory letter for the report.
ASA Executive Director Debbie Churgai along with Sherer lead the explanation and insights from this year’s SOS report. The report assigns an individual grade based on scores in seven main categories and more than 100 subcategories, including penalties. The grading scale was based on adherence to an ideal medical cannabis law and states were graded on a curve. For 2022, Maryland scored the highest with a grade of 75.71%/B-, and the two lowest-scoring states were Idaho and Nebraska with a score of 0%/F due to having no medical program at all. This year’s report featured a medical cannabis equity checklist—which includes legislative actions such removing patient registration fees—and will be part of a campaign beginning this year.
Churgai noted that one surprising trend that surfaced in 2022 was the fact that more states were not making improvements in their medical cannabis programs and were instead prioritizing adult-use policies over patient protections. One trend that was not surprising—but still disappointing—was the lack of affordability for products and programs, which was regarded as a national problem.
In looking forward, one of the biggest dangers facing patients now is complacency. A lack of evolution in the industry does not reveal a preservation, Sherer explained, but rather is leading to degradation. Sherer ended the webinar with the statement that ASA is confident that the US is ready for comprehensive federal legislation and the creation of an office for medical cannabis and cannabinoid control as a resource to assist states.
The briefing included a Q&A session at the end for participants. Questions included how regulations would need to change to encompass medical cannabis alongside adult-use, if the issue was more of a government or a marketing issue, and how individuals can use the SOS in advocacy efforts.
To learn more about ASA’s SOS report and how it’s changed over the years, check out our interview with Abbey Roudebush detailing the 2021 report.