Guiding Cannabis Conversations

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Cannabis use for medical purposes, or use by adults for any purpose, is top of mind for many state legislators, and numerous ASAM State Chapters are leading efforts to ensure state cannabis policies are science-based and protect public health. ASAM cautions against the inclusion of OUD or any other SUD as a qualifying condition for approved medical use of cannabis, and instead supports more research into the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis. ASAM supports Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory oversight of medicines and its established new drug approval process, which has led to the availability of three safe and effective medications for OUD: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. While ASAM does not support the legalization of cannabis, ASAM does support its decriminalization, and provides technical assistance and consultation to ASAM State Chapters that want to help ensure their states prioritize public health and safety with any cannabis policy changes.

State Capitol

Recent State Chapter Advocacy Successes:

  • In 2018, the Maryland-DC Society of Addiction Medicine submitted a letter to the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee that helped to halt the inclusion of OUD as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical cannabis program.
  • In 2019, the Rhode Island Society of Addiction Medicine successfully petitioned the Department of Health to abstain from adding OUD to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program.
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Examples of Related State Chapter Advocacy

  • Play a key role in state-level conversations about cannabis policy by providing guidance to lawmakers on the science and treatment of addiction.
  • Advocate for policies that prohibit the sale of cannabis products to minors, prohibit marketing to youth, and require warning labels on cannabis products.
  • Caution against the inclusion of OUD as a qualifying condition for state medical cannabis programs. In states that allow cannabis use for medical purposes, require that physicians authorized to write cannabis permits also be certified to provide buprenorphine treatment.
  • Support the decriminalization of cannabis by advocating for policies that reduce penalties for personal use and possession to civil offenses linked to contingencies, such as mandated referral to clinical assessment.

Focus Areas


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