Americans 4 Safe Access SUNDAY SPECIAL| 1 more day until their 7th annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference
They wanted to give everyone a sneak peak at their program book Welcome Letter (below) and agenda to see what makes this conference so special and why they work so hard to put on this conference year after year. This year, with the help of their sponsors, they were able to provide financial support to over 50 patients from all over the country to come to D.C. to share their stories, and personalize the medical cannabis issue face to face with their elected official. They have also secured over 100 other meetings with conference participants and their district representatives.
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS FROM:
Founder and President
Americans for Safe Access
Welcome to Unity 2019!
This year, Americans for Safe Access will celebrate its 17th birthday. I am proud and humbled when I look back at the role our organization has played in advancing medical cannabis access across the US and globally. Throughout the years ASA has chipped away at barriers to access through initiatives, legislation, regulatory oversight, implementation campaigns, PR campaigns, legal battles, education, outreach, research, and product safety regulation development.
This is an exciting time for medical cannabis globally, and while it seems like medical cannabis will soon be an option in every area of the globe, medical cannabis is still not reaching most of the patients that could benefit in the US. Despite the fact that 47 states, the DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all have passed some kind of medical cannabis legislation, upwards of half or more of these populations are left out of the programs because of financial, legislative, and regulatory barriers.
Despite the growing national support for medical cannabis many people still see cannabis therapeutics through the lens of compassionate use rather than a fight to close the gap between herbal medicines and pharmaceuticals. This is being demonstrated in the experience of those who are now having to defend their rights as patients against adult use and compete with industry’s attention for the development and supply of products derived from cannabis. That is why ASA will be focusing on federal legislative strategies that build on the infrastructure that has been driven by patient advocacy and expand access across the nation. We believe that patient advocacy also means setting standards and expectations not only from government but from the industry that is serving patients.
This year, our conference theme is “The Price of Being a Medical Cannabis Patient”. We know that affordable medical cannabis is not a reality for many patients in this country. However, when we talk about the “price” we are also referring to the price of potentially losing one’s job, being kicked out of housing, leaving their home and family because they have to move out of state, losing their children, and having to worry about consistency and safety of their medicine. Under current state and federal laws these are all issues that patients have to consider before using a medicine that should be available, reliable, and affordable to all who need it.
Every year ASA members, allies, and staff work to pass new state legislation and improvements to old legislation. It has been 23 years since the passage of the first state medical cannabis initiative and state programs are still only serving a small proportion of the population of possible patients, keeping cannabis treatments out of reach for most. At this rate, to make these laws really work for patients, would take another 23 years. It is time to aim higher than state by state laws that are often created to allow as few people as possible into the program and focus on passing federal legislation that will allow patients in every town in American to have access to medical cannabis, that is safe, reliable, and has the potential to be covered by health insurance.
Countries across the globe are moving toward federal medical cannabis laws granting their citizens a pathway for patients to access standardized cannabis through prescriptions that can be covered by health insurance. US patients should expect the same.
To keep the focus on viewing cannabis as a true medicine, legislators need to hear directly from patients and hear their stories. This is why every year we continue to bring patients from all over the country to D.C. to meet with their federal representatives, to share their stories, and personalize the medical cannabis issue to their elected official. We know that here on Capitol Hill elected officials are more likely to deepen their understanding of an issue when they hear it directly from a constituent. That is why patient advocates are the greatest asset for changing laws. So thank you so much for taking time out of your lives to be here to represent patients from Guam to Puerto Rico.
It has been my honor to serve as ASA’s President and Founder for the last 17 years. As our community has grown and our voice has strengthened, it brings me great pride to see that ASA’s programs and projects have become pillars to the medical cannabis movement. Thank you for joining us this year in Washington, D.C. and as the fight for safe access continues, I look forward to you being a part of our success of greater patient access.
Founder and President
Americans for Safe Access