Medical cannabis is now legal in 28 states across the country, however, cannabis is still technically illegal on a federal basis. Federal illegality limits options for patients who are of modest financial means to pay for their medicine. Other patients have a wide array of special programs available to them from pharmaceutical companies, charitable organizations, and government agencies. However, clinical cannabis patients are generally left to fend for themselves. That could soon change.
Washington State’s CannaBusiness Association (WACA) has proposed a charitable initiative aimed at providing assistance for low-income medical cannabis patients. While WACA is currently overcoming some legal and regulatory challenges, they hope to launch the fund by Spring 2017. According to WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen, WACA will administer the new fund separately from the organization.
“People don’t have access to the same kinds of opportunities to get assistance for their medicine,” notes Christophersen. “We heard, and have been hearing from patients — legitimate patients who have an authorization — there are people having a difficult time accessing their medications.” Christopherson hopes her organization can help fill the void until the feds change the legal status of cannabis, thereby opening access to more programs for patients in need.
For patients to qualify, they will need authorization from a qualified medical professional. After WACA works out the kinks, and the fund is operating, patients who seek financial assistance can obtain paperwork at the retail locations of WACA members’ retail locations.
While many retail stores continue to offer few certified medical products, Christophersen claims the situation is improving. “All of our retail members who have medical endorsements have products on their shelves, and they’re getting more every day,” she said.
WACA’s Mission and Code of Conduct
WACA’s mission and code of conduct emphasizes six tenets:
- Social responsibility
- Sensible regulation
- Industry-wide compliance
- Responsible consumption
- Clean cannabis
All members will be required to sign on to a new WACA code of ethics that embrace these values. Given WACA’s commitment to social responsibility, they see this fund as helping advance their mission.
WACA has opened up donations to the fund to anyone who would like to help patients in need. Veterans make up a significant number of patients who stand to benefit from the program.