If the annual report card grading each state’s medical marijuana law were anything like the report cards received in high school, 36 percent of the states would be heading right to the principal’s office. Out of the 44 states that now have some type of legal medical marijuana program in place, 16 of them received the lowest possible grade of F.
The poor performance of medical marijuana laws in so many states illustrates an important point. Just because medical cannabis may have a state law backing it up doesn’t mean the state has efficient systems and processes in place to do the same.
The grades come from Americans For Safe Access (ASA), which recently released the 2017 edition of its Medical Marijuana Access in the United States report. The annual report grades each state’s medical marijuana law on five criteria:
Patient rights and discrimination protection
Access to medicine
Ease of navigation
Product safety protocols
Letter Grades for 44 States and Washington, D.C.
A total of 18 states, and the District of Columbia, received grades in the B range. Nine states made it into the C range. Alaska received a D-, and 16 states failed miserably.
Rhode Island (C+)
New York (C)
New Jersey (C)
North Dakota (C)
Big, Fat Fail
North Carolina (F)
South Carolina (F)
Legalization Only First Hurdle
While the report noted grades are improving overall across the nation, we still don’t see any grades in the A range. It also needs to be noted that a few states have actually gone down a notch since last year’s report, with a prime example being Washington state.
What’s up with Washington?
Although Washington has a reputation for being one of the most progressive marijuana states, its grade plummeted to a C- in the most recent report, a full letter grade lower than the previous year.
Washington is one of the states in which marijuana is legal for recreational use, and the drastic dip in its grade can be largely attributed to combining the medical and recreational marijuana systems.
Hundreds of medical dispensaries closed down last year throughout the state, with only a few recreational dispensaries being awarded medical endorsements. That left medical marijuana patients with far less access to and in-store support for medical cannabis they’re now often forced to purchase at recreational shops.
While lack of forethought, standardization and efficient systems still appear to be issues across the nation, we can hope this year's slate of poor grades prompt states to improve – and avoid any subsequent trips to the principal’s office.
Dan Ogden is a 20+ year veteran of the executive search industry, having covered operations, regulatory and consulting verticals within capital markets as well as data science, data analytics and, more recently, the cannabis industry within search firm and internal corporate HR leadership roles. Dan is Principal of the practice at Delta 9, the Western Hemisphere's' only dedicated cannabis industry executive search firm. To find out how Delta 9's proprietary, trademarked end-to-end recruiting methodology can help you find the key executives to make your company thrive and grow in the cannabis industry, shoot us an email, or give us a ring at 212.390.8190.