The largest medical marijuana advocacy group in the nation – Americans for Safe Access – is teaming up with the herbal medicine industry to help states with medical marijuana laws regulate dispensaries for safety and quality. A press release from ASA gives us the details, and it reads in part:

420times_000010734269XSmall-150x150Washington, DC – The Cannabis Committee of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the only national trade association that is focused primarily on herbs and botanicals and herbal products, issued recommendations this week to regulators of dispensaries in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, and will make similar recommendations in other medical marijuana states over the next few days. The committee, in cooperation with medical marijuana advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA), has over the past year coordinated the development of best practice protocols in several areas, including cultivation; manufacturing, packaging and labeling; laboratory practice; and distribution.

“The AHPA Cannabis Committee includes in its charter a responsibility to develop policy recommendations that support safe use of products derived from Cannabis species,” commented Michael McGuffin, AHPA’s president. “This initial work should be well-received by state regulators, who share our commitment to ensuring safe access to medical marijuana for their citizens.”

Founded in 1982, AHPA is the oldest of the non-profit organizations that specializes in service to the herbal industry. With more than 340 members, AHPA’s membership represents the finest growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of botanical and herbal products.The AHPA Cannabis Committee was founded in 2010 to address issues related to the safe use and responsible commerce of legally-marketed products derived from Cannabis species.

“As more state medical marijuana laws are adopted, regulators are seeking ways to address health and safety regulations,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “Just like any other consumer, medical marijuana patients have a right to know that their medicine is safe,” continued Sherer. “We are grateful that the AHPA Cannabis Committee is working with ASA and the medical cannabis industry in providing guidance to regulators. We see this as a crucial step in understanding marijuana as a botanical medicine, not as a dangerous drug without medical value, which for decades has been the political position of the federal government.”

Although most of the 18 states that have adopted medical marijuana laws have recognized the need for localized distribution and have established effective regulations that protect businesses and residents in those communities, far less definition exists for product protocols and safety standards. With decades of overseeing the safety of herbal products, AHPA is uniquely qualified to apply that experience to medical marijuana.

The AHPA Cannabis Committee began collaborating with ASA last year in its effort to seek feedback from medical marijuana manufacturers, producers, and distributors, as well as laboratories from regulated markets in California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Washington State. “The committee would not have achieved the work completed to date without the support of Americans for Safe Access,” added McGuffin. “ASA’s guidance, contacts, and outreach will continue to be essential to completion of the committee’s tasks.” The committee will continue to develop recommendations in each of the other areas where regulations may be implemented, and will distribute these as they are completed over the next several months.

While regulations are needed for the medical marijuana industry, it is important that advocates are active at every step to make sure those regulations don’t become too excessive and prevent access.

There are few groups out there that are on the cutting edge of an industry like Americans for Safe Access. They fight tirelessly for medical marijuana patients and their rights to full and safe access to their medicine.

Joe Klare

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