Cannabis 101: Understanding Compassionate Care

Cannabis 101: Understanding Compassionate Care
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When it comes to the medical marijuana era—including understanding compassionate care—it pays to know a bit of history.  Far from being a mere historical footnote in the long march towards legalization, the advent of state-sanctioned medical cannabis markets represented a game-changing victory on multiple fronts. From a policy perspective, the success of California’s Prop 215 in 1996 set in motion a domino effect that inspired numerous other states to follow suit by subsequently enacting medical marijuana laws of their own.  What these laws accomplished was nothing short of radical: They allowed those suffering from a variety of medical ailments to purchase, consume and benefit from cannabis without fear of legal repercussion. But it didn’t go off quite so cleanly. Many licensed operations endured frequent, aggressive raids from federal authorities. Despite such challenges, some craft cannabis cultivators in California’s Emerald Triangle still pine for the medical-only days. It makes sense. As a far looser market, requirements for testing, taxes, packaging and licensing all still existed but were notably less stringent than they’d ultimately become following California’s move to legalize recreational cannabis sales in 2018. Another reason for these laments stems from the highly lucrative, rapidly growing cannabis industry, with its focus clearly shifting from medicine to money. Case in point: It took a monumental effort from advocates to fix a loophole in Prop 64 (California’s adult-use bill) that essentially killed the state’s landmark compassionate care program. To understand what happened, one needs to look at how these programs work and who they were originally designed to help. Free Weed The underlying concept behind compassionate care programs is that those in need should always have access to safe, quality medicine—regardless of whether they can afford it. At the onset, this group was largely composed of those living with HIV/AIDS, and cannabis had been deemed a…

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