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Historic Federal Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana Introduced Today


federal medical marijuanaBy Phillip Smith

A bipartisan trio of senators today introduced historic legislation to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) filed the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and allow states to set their own policies.

“We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose-recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows,” said Sen. Booker. “Doctors and patients deserve federal laws that are fair and compassionate, and states should be able to set their own medical marijuana policies without federal interference.  I am thankful to Senators Gillibrand and Paul as well as the Drug Policy Alliance for their hard work on this common-sense bill to make medical marijuana accessible to the millions of Americans who could benefit from it.”

The bill would reclassify marijuana for medical use, allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, overhaul banking laws to allow licensed medical marijuana businesses to use financial services, and open up more research possibilities for medical marijuana.

In addition to the Drug Policy Alliance, the senators also consulted with the Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, and other voices for patients in drafting the bill. Although nearly half the states have passed medical marijuana laws (and a dozen more have passed limited CBD cannabis oil laws), marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That means patients and providers in medical marijuana states are still at risk of federal prosecution and families and patients in non-medical marijuana states must relocate or travel long distances to get treatment, facing the risk of prosecution in non-medical marijuana states along the way.

“I am so happy to support this bill. As the mother of a child with a severe seizure disorder, anxiously waiting to get access to a medication that is already helping thousands of others is unbearable,” said Kate Hintz, a New York resident who has advocated for CBD to treat her daughter and others to treat epilepsy and seizures. “After persistent advocacy in my home state of New York, we finally saw a medical marijuana law passed last summer.  Yet individual state’s laws, including New York’s, will not succeed until we lift the current federal restrictions surrounding this plant,” she added.

“I applaud Sens. Gillibrand, Booker and Paul for taking this bold step forward and insisting the federal government take action.  Let’s end the fear and stigma associated with marijuana, and instead allow this bill to provide research, medicine, and long needed relief to so many. It cannot come fast enough, especially for my daughter,” Hintz concluded.

“For far too long, the government has enforced unnecessary laws that have restricted the ability of the medical community to determine the medicinal value of marijuana and have prohibited Americans from receiving essential care that would alleviate their chronic pain and suffering. I am proud today to stand with Sens. Gillibrand and Booker to introduce a bill that will fundamentally change our nation’s drug policies and have a positive impact on the lives of our Veterans and children,” said Sen. Paul.

While the Obama administration has, in recent years, largely taken a laissez-faire approach to medical marijuana in states that have approved it, that approach is both uneven and dependent on the whim of the administration in power. Just last week, federal prosecutors in Washington state took a family of five medical marijuana patients–the Kettle Falls Five–to trial, threatening them with lengthy, mandatory minimum prison sentences for growing medical marijuana legally under state law (in a state where even recreational marijuana is legal!).

Fortunately for the Kettle Falls Five, a federal jury acquitted them of most charges, including the most serious ones. But under the current state of federal marijuana prohibition, such prosecutions could continue.

Similarly, the Obama administration’s recent restraint on medical marijuana is derived from Justice Department guidance to federal prosecutors about which cases raise the level of federal concern high enough to warrant prosecution. That guidance was crafted by a deputy attorney general answerable to Attorney General Holder and the president. Absent protections provided by this bill or similar legislation, a new administration could easily return to the bad old days of DEA raids and patients and providers being hauled off to federal prison.

“As the parents of severely ill children who could be helped by medical cannabis, we are dedicated to advancing safe, legal and viable access,” said Maria De Gregorio, a parent leader of the Kentucky-based Parents Coalition for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis. “Rescheduling efforts must also guarantee access to whole plant extracts that have proven therapeutic benefits. We feel it is crucial to support state rights in all current and future medical marijuana programs. Thus, we strongly endorse this bill as it is written.”

“Almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical use; it’s long past time to end the federal ban,” said Michael Collins, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine.”

“With studies showing that medical cannabis access decreases suicide and addiction rates, the CARERS Act is absolutely necessary to help fix a broken healthcare system for veterans, which deals with suicides and addiction at catastrophic rates,” said TJ Thompson, a retired U.S. Navy Third Class Petty Officer. “Now, I’m considered a criminal because of the medication that helps me. I take it illegally to treat my PTSD.”

“This comprehensive proposal would effectively end the war on medical marijuana and let states compassionately provide care for seriously ill people without the federal government standing in the way,” said Tom Angell, director of Marijuana Majority. “The fact that two young Democrats with likely long political futures have teamed up with a probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate shows how medical marijuana is a nonpartisan, noncontroversial issue that draws support from across the spectrum. With polls showing an overwhelming majority of American voters backing marijuana reform, you’d think taking up this proposal would be a no-brainer for legislative leaders who want to show that Congress can still get things done.”

We shall see. The bill text is not yet available on the congressional website, and it has not yet been assigned to a committee. That’s the next step in a long process.

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Johnny Green


  1. I’m well aware of the politics in your state, my dad owned a home there.
    Even so, that prevalent mindset will cause the movement to flounder in some areas.
    When was the last time you insulted someone, immediately asked them for their support, and actually got it? Right, never…

  2. Not a problem. I use to complain about the injustices going on,but never doing anything about it. I have learned over the years that I have gotten farther in life by being positive than any other way. I am speaking as a person who has been abused since childhood and pushing 50 with a great family and some truly good friends who have picked me up and gave me support. Anyhow I am positive legalization will come. Unfortunately Michigan will want to create a tax. That is what our Government does best. Hopefully it want be as expensive as Colorado. ideally we will be able to grow our own personal. Have a great day brother.

  3. I appreciate your enthusiasm and I do sign petitions. I’ll try to think positive…this could happen. Yes that does feel better, thank you.

  4. Yours is one opinion. I live in Arkansas and I am well aware of the politics here. Think whatever you like but you don’t make me want to change anything.

  5. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine. when I hear of an outspoken rep. that is against prohibition I send an email thanking them. It’s a standard letter they all get. In the position I am in I know treating people with respect goes farther than attacking them. I get very offensive when I get attaked. Don’t you?

  6. The more we beat them up the less likely they are to pay attention, and it’s not all GOP reps that are against, and not all Dems support it.
    Standing on the sidelines yelling offensive comments to them isn’t helping move this issue forward, in fact, it tends to have the opposite effect.

  7. Johnny oneye on

    Here we go
    pig wit lipstick
    Still a pig
    Schedule 2 fuck you
    genocide .
    Not Guilty
    never was Guilty
    “Safest medicine known to man”

  8. Beyond Pesticides on

    Marijuana may be legal in your state for medicinal and recreational use, but
    are toxic pesticides used in its production? What you perceive as natural may
    be tainted by dangerous chemicals.

    A study released today of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that
    have legalized marijuana finds a patchwork of state laws and evolving policy
    that define allowed pesticide use and management practices in cannabis

    Read more about it here: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/watchdog/cannabis.php

  9. Anyone that lives in a state that the GOP has control of the legislature could find better use of your time instead of emailing a deaf stone wall. The GOP is still deaf to this issue and they steadfastly adhere to whoring to Big Business interests. If you like engaging in futility then by all means start the emails flying.

  10. Introduced doesn’t mean squat but let us know if the bill starts getting a lot of support.

  11. I don’t mind paying a fair and equil tax Compared to tobacco. It’s the massive tax gouge and over priced products. Hopefully the end of prohibition federally will correct this and end this and all Marijuana related issues.

  12. As a fellow Michigan citizen do what I do email our politicians from both parties. Quick search on the Web and mass emails. Be respectful and firm. We can get this passed.

  13. Now is the time to email our legislators and with professional kindness tell them you want them to pass this bill. Tell then to end Marijuana prohibition. If enough people do this they will listen to voters. I do thus regularly on a weekly basis. 15 minutes on the Web and pick a name in your state. Every and all persons count there is never enough of people doing this. Please take the time.

  14. I’m not as pessimistic. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Pat Roberts (R-KS) all said marijuana is for the state to decide. That makes 4 GOP senators (including Paul) who have taken that position.

    Call your senators everyone! Also call your governor while you’re at it. Ask him if he intends to stand up for your state.

  15. I’m interested in what Mitch McConnell has to say. Roll Call says he did not have an immediate response.

  16. Jason Gambino on

    spend close to $10-$14 billion a year on weed. Which would mean we
    would owe $27,397,260.30 less a day, it may seem like such a small
    amount but 27 million less a day is just how much less would be owed.
    If we bring into account the amount we would spend on weed it will
    equal out. Consider if we treated it like the other drugs in the
    United States. If we taxed weed equal to tabacoo. We would make about
    $6.2 billion a year in taxes. Which would let us borrow another
    $16,986,301.40 less a year. So Just stopping measures against it and
    taxing it equal to tabacco will equal over $26 billion and this is
    without considering the amount the government could make from new
    bussinesses. Colorado made $60-70 million in revenue from pot taxes
    this fiscal year. This has made Colorado has a lot more money to
    spend on the state and improvements now. Even Califonia, one of the
    states with one of the highest debts is making good profits off of
    it. If legalized California would make over half a billion in
    sales. I have asked a few friends and my expert who I interviewed,
    they all told me that the best weed comes from California, This I
    believe is a sign that California would be a major exporter of high
    end weed which would mean a huge boost to the California economy to a
    possible point of ending their debt. It is estimated that in all
    consumers will spend over $3 billion a year not counting taxes on
    weed. I’m just saying, This is an issue that could save the American Economy.

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