A group of lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan medical cannabis bill just days after a letter surfaced from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that asked Congress to let him prosecute medical cannabis users. The group, comprised of members of the Senate and House, reintroduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act in an effort to end federal prohibition against medical cannabis.
On June 15, 2017, Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mike Lee, and Lisa Murkowski reintroduced the Senate’s bill, while Don Young and Steve Cohen reintroduced the House bill, as reported by the Drug Policy Alliance.
News about the letter from Sessions broke on June 12, with Sessions asking Congress to cease all policies in place to protect medical cannabis businesses and users. Many advocates saw this as Sessions waging war on the drug that so many use for treatment.
“As medical marijuana comes under attack from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this legislation is more essential than ever,” stated 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.”
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the CARERS Act was first introduced on March 10, 2015, by Booker in the 114th Congress. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, but the bipartisan medical cannabis bill didn’t progress any further.
Under the updated version of the CARERS Act, federal prohibition of medical cannabis would come to an end. Each state would be allowed to establish its own rules and regulations for the drug, without having patients, doctors, caregivers and business owners worrying about the federal government knocking at their doors.
The bipartisan medical cannabis bill would also remove current research obstacles, allow Veterans Affairs doctors who live in states that have legalized the drug to recommend medical cannabis as treatment for veterans and permit cannabidiol to be transported across state lines.
“Federal marijuana policy has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion,” Booker said in a press release. “This bill will help ensure that people who can benefit from medical marijuana – from children suffering from chronic illnesses to veterans battling PTSD – can do so without worrying about the federal government standing in the way.”
This past April, a Quinnipiac University poll concluded that 94% of voters approve of adult use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
“Our bill would bring the federal government in line with the American people by allowing states to set their own marijuana policies, allowing patients and veterans to receive the treatments they need from their doctors, and improving opportunities for research on marijuana,” Cohen said in a press release.