In a newly released 178-page annual report from the national cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), researchers took a fine toothed comb and examined every US state’s medical marijuana program, eventually attaching a letter grade to each.
First reported by Westword, the ASA grade book uses five strict rubrics to tally each state — consumer safety and provider requirements; functionality; patient rights and civil protection; ease of navigation; and access to medicine. Within each category, the report’s authors used benchmarks of an ideal MMJ program to award numbered scores for specific goals.
For example, in the functionality section, each state that allows patients reasonable access to cannabis at dispensaries or through homegrows is awarded 50 points. From there, more specific targets like “reasonable possession limit” and “allows patients to medicate where they choose” add additional points for a total of 100 in each section.
Starting with the states that need to stay back a grade, ASA gave an automatic F to all three states that have not yet legalized any form of medical marijuana — Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska — as well as the slew of states that have legalized some form of CBD, but have not yet taken the plunge into full-strength THC medicine. These states are mostly concentrated in the South and Midwest, including Texas, Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas, the Carolinas, and more.
In the Northeast, the ASA handed out a pile of passing grades, but stopped short of any gold stars, awarding Pennsylvania a C+, New Jersey a B, New York a B-, and Vermont a C. Unlike their Southern neighbors, those states passed with flying colors when it came to providing access, but came up short when it came to financial cost, personal cultivation, labor protections, and more.
At the top of the class, Oregon and Illinois were the only two states awarded an A- grade, with no state able to crack higher than 92. Both Oregon and Illinois have legalized recreational cannabis use, but have also remained focused on providing the best experience possible to active medical patients. On a whole, states with adult-use legalization fared better than their medical-only counterparts, with California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Michigan all awarded a B+ and Colorado graded at a firm B.
For ASA researchers, the new report is an encouraging look at how far cannabis reform has come in such a short time, but is also a reminder that there is still plenty of work left to be done — eventually culminating in nationwide legalization.
“While we are excited to see the number of states with medical cannabis programs increase, we know this patchwork of laws is not working to provide access to everyone who needs this medicine,” the report reads. “Patients can still not travel to other states with their medicine, and some states only offer protections that cover a small subset of patients using a certain type of medication.”
Want to find out if your state made the grade? You can read the entire ASA report and see each state’s score breakdown here.
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