On April 7-11, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) held its 2017 Unity Conference, bringing experts from around the globe together in Washington D.C. to discuss the future of the medical cannabis industry both the United States and abroad.

The conference kicked off on Friday night with a welcome reception and geared up on Saturday morning with several panels discussing challenges, developments, and the general state of the cannabis industry today.

Dr. Jeffrey Raber, cannabis researcher and founder of The Werc Shop, participated in a morning panel entitled: Exciting Developments in Cannabis Research & Access. In the afternoon, he took some time to speak with me about the path he’d like to see for the future of the medical cannabis industry.

“I would like to see it head more towards standardized products that are consistent across the whole spectrum,” said Raber. “More standardized delivery methods would make it much more predictable on what you can expect the response to be, but I don’t know that we are going to get there any time soon.”

He cautioned that there is potential for more marketing and unsubstantiated claims in the field that aren’t always going to be tailored to the best interest of patients.

Dr. Stuart Titus, another member of the same morning panel, said he was excited about the neurological benefits that research is proving CBD to have and how his company, Medical Marijuana Inc., fits into the future of the industry.

“Not only are there great neuroprotective benefits, but also there seems to be some tremendous neuro-regenerative capabilities that only CBD seems to have,” said Titus. “I’m very excited for what this means for overall neurological medicine. I think the concept of neuro-regeneration is now something that is within our grasp.”

Beth Collins, senior director of government relations and external affairs for ASA, said the conference is one of her favorite events that the organization holds because it fuels her to share the remarkable stories far and wide.

“The Unity Conference is so special because we have the leading science, regulatory, and legal experts, as well as doctors and our wonderful patient advocates, all in one room,” said Collins. “I feel that ASA is only going to continue growing as more and more states begin introducing legalization efforts. We are going to continue to get involved with state governments and assist them in ensuring that people are doing things the right way.”

Support continued throughout the week with 71 advocates participating in 72 meetings between both the House and Senate to support two pieces of legislation — H.R. 1227: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 and the CARERS Act of 2017.

H.R. 1227 would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and delete cannabis-related offenses and penalties including mandatory minimums. It would also effectively decriminalize cannabis at the Federal level, allowing states to decide how to regulate it and allow many patients who use medical cannabis to receive physician recommended treatment without having to worry about federal prosecution.

The CARERS Act would protect users of medical cannabis who comply with state laws from unwarranted federal prosecution and greatly expand the opportunity for medical and scientific research on the uses and effects of medical cannabis.

To learn more about ASA and how you can get involved with their lobbying efforts, visit: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/join_asa.

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