Association of Cannabis Specialists Publishes 8 Steps to U.S. Federal Cannabis Legalization
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The Association of Cannabis Specialists (ACS) has announced that it has developed a framework for the U.S. federal regulation for medical cannabis use. With only a patchwork of state cannabis laws currently in existence, these new recommendations offer a unified federal framework to help optimize the care of patients across the country.
Recognized as one of the most respected advocacy groups on behalf of patients and health care practitioners, the ACS provides resources, education, political action and other services to provide a lasting impact on improved patient care.
“At ACS, our mission is to ensure the highest standards in the practice of cannabis medicine and safeguard patients with clinical best practices,” said Jordan Tishler, M.D., ACS Founder. “There are currently no federal guidelines in existence to help patients being treated with cannabis. This new framework offers guidelines on a federal level that will benefit patients in a substantial manner.”
The ACS works with a portfolio of partners to support the released guidelines, such as its partnership with Sail. Sail’s Clinical Decision Support Platform uses clinically-validated research to provide clinicians with the necessary tools at the point-of-care to evaluate and dose medical cannabis with confidence and in full compliance with all regulations. The ACS is committed to ensuring that these types of tools are readily available to support the industry within the proposed framework.
The ACS recommends that any federal law must include, at a minimum, the following parameters:
- Exact prescriptions: A prescribing paradigm that provides a system to ensure patients need both prescriptions and products that support very specific and reliable regimens. Regulations that limit the amount that a dispensary can sell to patients, as per the prescription, and based on the regimen needed by that patient, rather than limiting the amount of medicine that a patient is permitted to have in its possession.
- Medical claims: Prohibition of sales representatives from upselling or making medical determinations on behalf of the patient. Regulation addressing claims made by manufacturers, as well as statements that are allowed by lay people, such as budtenders, who are selling these products.
- State-to-state interoperability: Patients must be allowed to travel with their medication, including by air, within all U.S. states, use their medication in all states, and purchase their medication in all states subject to their prescription. These conditions are crucial to proper and effective medical treatment.
- Common safety standards: A regulatory regime governing the growing, harvesting, manufacturing, testing, and packaging of cannabis medicine in such a manner consistent with other medications.
- Clinical Discretion: Regulations limiting the lists of qualifying medical conditions because physicians are more qualified than state lawmakers to assess what medications are appropriate for patients’ care.
- Purchase feedback: Regulations that mandate nation-wide tracking of cannabis medicine sales in a HIPAA-compliant, protected, and de-identified (when appropriate) fashion so that system compliance can be monitored, scientific data can be extracted, and individual patient purchase information can be fed back to and monitored by their clinicians. Such a system would be similar to the PMP systems used for opioid, and other controlled substance, monitoring.
- Recreational system overlap: Regulations limiting dispensary sales teams from making medical recommendations to people presenting in the recreational market with medical questions. (For example, if a 50 year old man presents to a retail cannabis establishment and asks the question, “what have you got for my back pain?” the sales agent’s appropriate and legally constrained response should be, “I'm sorry I cannot address these questions. I would be happy to put you in touch with a physician who can.”)
- Research agenda: Regulations governing cannabis medication with regard to efficacy and specific illnesses, as they do any other medications, through the promotion of ongoing research efforts. This should be overseen by the FDA and have a clearly defined pathway for both pharmaceutical and botanical forms of cannabis medicine.