The movement for legalization continues to spread throughout the U.S. with 40 states having enacted some form of law relating to marijuana, and national revenue reaching almost $5.5 billion in 2015 alone.
Obviously, there are varying degrees of acceptance and some states still have stringent restrictions on prescriptions, production and distribution, but we are finally seeing lobbyist groups cross to the green side, and the Americans for Safe Access Foundation is doing exactly that.
The group puts out an annual report, which ‘evaluates the array of differing state medical cannabis programs,’ with the aim of providing policy makers with ideal legislation and regulations, based on the opinions and experiences of the most vital party- the patient.
Within these reports the foundation takes States back to school, grading them on patient rights and civil protections, access to cannabis, and cultivation laws amongst other things. Whilst no states have managed to get straight A’s, here are the top 10 U.S. States for medical marijuana.
California made their first move to legal marijuana in 1996, and today stands tall as the “the best place in the country for patients to receive legal protections and gain the most timely access” to medicinal cannabis.
Illinois has some of the best product safety regulations, regulating the use of harmful pesticides, but patients are limited to purchasing medicine instead of growing their own, and mandatory background checks include fingerprinting.
Famous for the Las Vegas strip, Nevada could soon become better known for its marijuana policies, with access and patient safety both scoring highly. The foundation has mentioned that a low possession limit of 2.5 ounces may prevent an uninterrupted supply of medicine.
New Mexico: B+
Since the last report, New Mexico has doubled it’s amount of dispensaries, but it still falls short on patient protection, particularly in terms of child custody, housing and employment.
Medicinal and recreational uses are legal in Colorado, so access is plentiful, and individual’s financial situations are considered when providing medicines. The State still falls short on civil protections and implementing statewide product safety requirements.
Patient rights put Hawaii’s score in the green, however, it is still damaged by lengthy delays in receiving patient ID cards, and a lack of independent lab testing.
Whilst also scoring points for product safety, Maryland struggles to meet demand, with delays in licensing affecting their ability to provide an efficient supply of cannabis, and users of the medicine may lose their position on organ transplant lists.
One of only 3 states which let doctors decide if marijuana will help their patients ailments (as opposed to only being able to prescribe based on a predetermined list), Massachusetts loses points on licencing delays and patient rights.
Another state that has legalised medicinal and recreational use, Oregon stands to lose points if they merge both programs. Currently, however, the state has “one of the strongest medical cannabis programs for patients in the nation,” and has adopted a number of privacy protections for patients.
Legislative changes may have seen a number of dispensaries shut down recently, the state scores highly in product safety and patient rights. However growth rights are set to expire in the coming months and supply may become limited.
Do you live in one of the top 10 states? What do you find to be the best aspects of your medical marijuana policies? Let us know on Social Media or in the comments below!