A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced a marijuana bill entitled CARERS Act on Thursday. The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Paul (R-KY), Gillibrand (D-NY), Lee (R-UT), Franken (D-MN), and Murkowski (R-AK). The House companion was reintroduced by Rep Young (R-AK) and Rep Cohen (D-TN).
“As medical marijuana comes under attack from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this legislation is more essential than ever,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “The time is now for Congress to pass legislation to protect patients, providers, and veterans.”
Just this week, it was revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress demanding that members end protections for medical marijuana patients. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers. It has been included in the current budget and has to be renewed; Sessions wants Congress not to renew it.
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Thirty states have full medical marijuana, as do Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. There are also 15 CBD-only states, which allow a limited form of medical marijuana.
The 2017 version of the bill has changes based on the previous version. The bill now does not reschedule marijuana to schedule 2. Moving marijuana to schedule 2 would do nothing to protect patients, and only marginally helps with research. In addition, there have been a lot of misconceptions about what rescheduling does, which distracted from the intent of the bill. The bill will end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and let states set their own policy. The bill also has a beefed up section on removing research barriers. Additionally, the bill no longer fixes the banking issue for recreational marijuana business, but does fix it for medical marijuana businesses.
Below is a brief summary of the bill:
- Ends federal prohibition of medical marijuana, allowing states to set their own medical marijuana laws, and protecting patients and providers from federal prosecution
- De-schedules CBD so that individuals from states with CBD laws with no CBD production can travel to and from states that produce CBD to purchase it
- Removes barriers to perform federally approved marijuana research
- Allows veterans to discuss medical marijuana with VA physicians in medical marijuana states and receive recommendations from those VA physicians