Senate Bill Would End Federal Prohibition on Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana from the Doctor

A bill introduced Tuesday by three U.S. senators would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana, The Washington Post reports.

The bill was introduced by Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, both Democrats, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, would reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs, which include heroin, have no accepted medical use in the United States. Schedule II drugs have a legitimate medical use but also have a high potential for abuse.

The bill would permit Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and would make it easier for scientists to obtain marijuana for medical research. It would allow banks and credit unions to provide the same services to the marijuana industry as they do to other businesses, without the fear of federal prosecution or investigation, the article notes.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, banks have been reluctant to conduct business with marijuana-related companies. Banks have feared being accused of helping these businesses launder their money.

The measure would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states, but would prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in states that have their own medical marijuana programs. Currently 23 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

An additional 12 states have approved use of marijuana strains with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce the high associated with the drug, and is used to treat epileptic seizures. The measure would remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal definition of marijuana, to allow its use in treatment of intractable seizures.

The bill’s fate in the Senate is unclear, according to the newspaper.

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    J C

    March 12, 2015 at 10:45 PM

    Details from the Rand Paul website…

    Passage of the bill would:

    1) Recognize States’ Responsibility to Set Medical Marijuana Policy & Eliminate Potential Federal Prosecution
    The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act so that states can set their own medical marijuana policies. The patients, providers and businesses participating in state medical marijuana programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.

    (2) Reschedule Marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, Recognizing “Accepted Medical Use”
    Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it does not currently have accepted medical use in the United States. The CARERS Act moves it to Schedule II, recognizing what Americans already know: marijuana has a legitimate medical purpose.

    (3) Allow States to Import Cannbidiol (CBD), Recognized Treatment for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
    The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal of definition of marijuana. This will allow youth suffering from intractable epilepsy to gain access to the medicine they need to control their seizures.

    (4) Provide Veterans Access
    Doctors in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities are currently prohibited prescribing medical marijuana. The CARERS Act would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.

    (5) Permit Financial Services and Banking for Marijuana Dispensaries
    Right now, medical marijuana business is a cash business. The CARERS Act provides a safe harbor to banks and credit unions, their officers and employees that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that engage in activities pursuant to state law.

    (6) Expand Opportunities for Research
    The CARERS Act removes unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for researchers to gain government approval to undertake important research on marijuana.


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