In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) held their 10th annual Unity Conference virtually from December 12-14, 2022. Here we present coverage of the third and final day of the conference.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest member-based medical cannabis advocacy organization, held their 10th annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference to reflect on progress made and to reinforce visions for the future. Due to various circumstances, the 2022 Unity Conference was postponed to the spring of 2023 and in the meantime, a virtual conference was held from December 12-14. The theme for this conference was looking at medical cannabis advocacy in terms of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Leading the conference was founder Steph Sherer and executive director Debbie Churgai, plus panels of medical experts, researchers, legal experts, and advocates. Attendees were provided a program and informed that the slides and recordings of the presentations would be available in the weeks after the conference (1).
The theme for day three on December 14th was “Tomorrow” with several talks focused on the topic of “The World We Envision, Safe and Affordable Access for All.” The panel discussion focused on looking outside the US for medical cannabis models in countries such as Israel and Canada. The two presenters for this panel—Dr. Dedi Meiri, head of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research at the Israel Institute of Technology, and Dr. Claude Cyr, a faculty lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University—shared how they utilized research and clinical experience to integrate cannabis into their countries’ health care infrastructures (2). The live Q&A with attendees covered topics such as how prescribing cannabis works in other countries and what the testing requirements and labelling of products looks like.
Dr. Meiri explained that his laboratory is studying which strains of cannabis affect which diseases, using cancer-killing cannabis cells and leukemia as an example. He shared that the goal is to close the distance between herbal medicine and modern medicine and that he believes cannabis is the key.
Dr. Cyr shared how he sees that even in Canada medical students are not taught about the endocannabinoid system, pharmacies are still reticent about providing cannabis education, and research is still needed to ensure safety of products. He explained that much depends on the federal legalization of cannabis in the US.
Next, Sherer gave a detailed and thorough presentation on what federal medical cannabis legislation should look like in the US and how patients can reclaim their role in this campaign (3). She highlighted the creation of the Office of Medical Cannabis Control and the creation of a new schedule for cannabis, Schedule VI, also noting that as of 2020 the US has been out of step with the United Nations’ stance on cannabis.
The conference ended with resources and strategies on how to help advocate for patients and how to take what has been learned over the past 20 years and implement it into the future.
For more information on the Unity Conference and Americans for Safe Access, please visit: https://www.asaunity.org/agenda_2022