The national discussion on the legal status of marijuana has been a hot-button issue since Colorado became the first state to legalize its recreational use and retail manufacturing and sale in 2012. Since then, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. have also legalized recreational cannabis use for adults. Since 1996, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for non-FDA-approved medicinal uses for a variety of conditions and another 13 states have cannabidiol (CBD)-specific medical marijuana laws that provide affirmative defense for patients who use low-THC, high-CBD cannabis extracts for specific conditions. As more and more states move to legalize marijuana and other cannabis products for either medicinal or recreational use, and as Congress considers bills intended to facilitate research into the potential therapeutic effects of marijuana, ASAM is taking the following actions:
- Urging caution to policymakers considering expanding access to marijuana,
- Advocating for public health and safety measures to accompany any changes in marijuana availability,
- Supporting decriminalization of marijuana, and
- Advocating for increased access to addiction treatment.
ASAM has created the below mapping tool to detail each state's law on legalization, medical marijuana and decriminalization. It also provides information on the specific states that are actively working to reform their laws, which is important for ASAM State Chapter organizations to monitor.
= Legalization: Yes; Medical: Yes; Decriminalization: Yes
= Legalization: No; Medical: Yes; Decriminalization: Yes
= Legalization: No; Medical: No; Decriminalization: Yes
= Legalization: No; Medical: Yes; Decriminalization: No
= Legalization: No; Medical: No; Decriminalization: No
Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, Regarding Recent Actions to Facilitate Medical Research into Potential Therapeutic Effects of Marijuana (October 11, 2016). A letter from ASAM was sent to Acting Administrator Rosenberg commending the DEA for expanding the number of marijuana production sites for the purpose of medical research and commenting on additional ways to reduce barriers to research.
Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Regarding Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana (July 13, 2016). Dr. Stuart Gitlow, ASAM's Immediate-Past-President, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Crime on how health care organizations are approaching changes in marijuana policy across the country.
Senators Schatz, Hatch, Tillis and Coons, Regarding the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act (June 21, 2016). ASAM signed a coalition endorsement letter supporting the MEDS Act, which would reduce barriers to performing medical research on potential therapies derived from marijuana while keeping in place safeguards to prevent diversion and ensure public safety.