What States Have Best Cannabis Programs?
Medical marijuana is slowly becoming the norm in the United States, with 40 states (and the District of Colombia) now having some type of law allowing for its use. Of course, not all medical marijuana programs are created equal, and a number of them—including those in New York, Texas and Georgia—have received some serious flack for their limitations. With all these states on board, its approximately safe to assume that 300 million Americans (85% of the population) now live in states with medical cannabis Laws. However, that doesn’t mean that access is a walk n the park to those in need of it . Medical marijuana in MD is available now, more than four years after the General Assembly passed a law legalizing it.
11 States With the Best Medical Marijuana Policy in America
California is the leader of the pack, as it was the first to pass medical cannabis into law in 2015, by passing Prop 215, a bill that will create a centrally regulated dispensary system.
The state is the best place in the country for patients to receive legal protections and gain the most timely access to the drug, but it falls a bit short on implementing employment, housing and child custody protections for patients.
According to ASA: “Colorado does well in most aspects of providing safe and legal access to its medical can- nabis patients. In terms of the law, the biggest oversight is the lack of civil discrimination protection in the areas of housing, employment, and child custody. On the regulatory side of things, the state should improve its product safety requirements by having the state evenly enforce the regulations across the state instead of relying on city and county health officials to do so, which has resulted in the unequal enforcement of these regulations.”
According to ASA: “The thoughtful adoption of product safety guidelines has earned Maryland a perfect score in this area, but the state still falls short in current access to medicine and overall patient rights. Given that the state is likely to have a delay in the licensing of dispensaries and cul- tivators due to a high number of applicants, Maryland should look for ways of facilitating patient access now.”
According to ASA: “Massachusetts fares well in most categories, but falls short in the area of patient rights. While the state is one of just three medical cannabis jurisdictions to allow physicians the right to recommend to any patient for whom the benefits outweigh the risks, the law fails to protect patients in the areas of employment, housing, child custody, and organ transplant discrimination. In addition to adopting these protections, the state’s limitations on home cultivation coupled with the relatively slow licensure of dispensaries has also harmed patient access.”
According to ASA: “Nevada has done an admirable job in implementing its in-state production and dispensaries with good product safety regulations, but still falls short in the area of protecting patient rights. The state needs to protect patients from civil discrimination by adding housing, employment, child custody, and organ transplant protections.”
While Illinois is strong, Michigan performed even better in the 2018 study. Overall, the state is doing an excellent job in moving medical cannabis laws through the legislature and making access easier for patients.
Areas for improvement include better opioid epidemic policy and adding protections for patients who use the drug for treatment.
In Hawaii, medical marijuana patients don’t face a great deal of red tape. State laws allow quick access at dispensaries and multiple ways to consume the drug while keeping costs reasonable.
Chronic pain should certainly be on the list of qualifying conditions here, but Hawaii will get there.
Illinois is credited with,
…adopting some of the best product safety regulations in the country. The regulations allow state officials to test for harmful pesticides, microbes, solvents and poisons from fungus.
About the only quibbles the group had with the state were its mandatory fingerprint background checks for new patients and the inability of patients to grow their own plants.
New Mexico has pushed progress forward and nearly doubled their number of dispensaries since the ASA’s last state rankings. However, it is lacking in patient protection areas like child custody, housing, and employment.
Legislative changes to the state has seen Washington scale back its medical cannabis program, and shutting down dozens of dispensaries. Patient rights and product safety still earn the state high points, however.
According to the ASA, Oregon has,
…one of the strongest medical cannabis programs for patients in the nation. Access to medicine is widespread, and the laws are patient-friendly and offer explicit privacy protections.
The ASA is expressing concern over state officials’ ideas to merge the medical program with recreational use.