Twelve states will vote on cannabis legalization measures this November. Those ballot measures — and the momentum that has given a majority of Americans legal access to cannabis — don’t come out of nowhere. Groups like Americans for Safe Access have played a huge role in the cannabis legalization that has taken place over the past two decades.
But legalization isn’t the end of the story. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean everyone has access. “There's lots of patients that don't even qualify to access cannabis in their state even though there's a medical program,” Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access Debbie Churgai explained on The Cannabis Enigma podcast.
From employees subject to drug testing to some minors to geographic restrictions to cost, there are a number of reasons why medical cannabis could be out of reach. “This medicine is not going to be accessible to everyone until insurance can cover it,” Churgai said, and that’s something ASA is working on.
Ultimately, two things will make federal legalization or descheduling more likely, explained Dustin McDonald, ASA’s policy director, education and pressure on elected officials, but more importantly, expanding the map of states that have legal cannabis programs.
“As we look at more controversial policy issues, whether it's cannabis, whether it's same sex marriage, the state and local governments tend to be the laboratories of democracy producing a lot of those reforms ahead of broad, full-scale federal action that addresses a more comprehensive top down approach,” McDonald explained.
The Cannabis Enigma Podcast is a collaboration between The Cannigma and Americans for Safe Access. This episode was edited, mixed, and produced by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. Music by Desca.