In its most comprehensive report to date, Americans for Safe Access ranked all 50 states and four territories based on the success of their state medical programs.
The 2022 State of the States 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 president Steph Sherer in the report’s intro.
Despite all the improvements and expansion over the past quarter-century since medical marijuana laws started to gain prominence across the country, the results of ASA’s study were lackluster, at best, from a patient perspective, with 13 states receiving a failing grade “for nonexistent or critically flawed” programs (Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming).
The top performing state was Maryland, with a score of 75.71%, one of five states to receive a B- grade (Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and Rhode Island being the others).
The average score among the states was a 46.16%, a D+ according to ASA’s grading scale. The territories didn’t fare much better, with only Guam (C-) scoring higher than 50%.
Many states that were pioneers in medical cannabis — and then, early adopters of recreational legalization — have failed to maintain their commitment to cannabis patients, with adult-use laws taking precedence; California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all scored under 70%.
The organization also emphasized the importance of the federal government taking up the cause and passing federal legislation regarding medical cannabis.
“In creating this report, it was made clear of the burden that would be lifted off states if the federal government passed comprehensive medical cannabis federal legislation,” ASA executive director Debbie Churgai said in a press release. “It is ASA’s hope that the report will inspire a renewed commitment in state policymakers to work with ASA and our advocates to not only improve state laws for patients, but to end the federal prohibition on cannabis once and for all.”
The 2022 report showed some small progress over the previous year: While the same 13 states received failing grades, only two states in 2021 received grades of B- or higher, with Maine (B) taking the top score at 76.14%. The average grade in 2021 was 44%.
— Garrett Rudolph