Sunday, February 9, 2020
How should policymakers assess the efficacy of medical marijuana programs? What are key metrics?
The question in the title of this post are questions I have asked students in my marijuana reform seminar to be considering this week. I am not sure I have good answers to these questions, so I am hoping my students can help answer them.
Notably, the group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) produces an annual report that gives letter grades to all states based on various criteria relating to medical marijuana programs. (The 2019 version of this lengthy and informative report is summarized in this ASA blog post.) But ASA is a medical marijuana advocacy group that grades states based primarily on how accessible marijuana is to individuals who want access -- i.e., ASA is focused on whether programs "ensure that all patients have access to the medicine they need" -- and it is not a given that all policymakers would be keen to adopt the ASA's grading criteria. (Tellingly, in these ASA reports, states with recreational marijuana programs consistently get the highest grades).
The Drug Enforcement & Policy Center last Fall released this survey report that "revealed immense dissatisfaction with the Ohio medical marijuana system" among likely medical marijuana consumers. But again, the views of likely consumers may not be the best metric for assessing the efficacy of a medical marijuana program. In some coming posts, I will focus on some existing data related to Ohio's and (some other states') medical marijuana program to further explore just what metrics ought to be key to assessing the virtues (and vices?) of these programs.