A group of bipartisan Senators and Representatives have stepped forward on Thursday with a bill that would protect doctors, patients and the medical marijuana industry in states that have elected to legalize the plant. Under the law, the federal government would have no ability to prosecute parties who are abiding by state marijuana laws regardless of the status of the plant on a federal level. Right now, the plant is still considered a Schedule I drug, giving it the strictest rules with the official belief that it is a high risk substance with no medicinal benefits. The current classification does not reflect the scientific data on the plant or the sentiment from the families in the 29 states that have legalized the plant for treating seizures, pain, epilepsy, cancer, AIDS, PTSD and a host of medical purposes.
The CARERS Act
The bill, called the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States, or CARERS would change the Controlled Substances Act so that states with marijuana laws would be able to govern their own rules regarding possession, production and distribution. Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, issued a statement saying, “The reintroduction of the CARERS Act is the first of many steps we hope this Congress will take to end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana. Polls show overwhelmingly strong support for medical marijuana, and it spans the political spectrum. The federal government should not be meddling in state laws that allow it or obstructing research into its many medical benefits.”
Senators Sponsoring the Bill
According to recent polls, 60 percent of the country support legalizing recreational marijuana and 94 percent believe in legalizing medical marijuana. 3/4 of the population believe that the federal government should not be interfering with states’ laws when it comes to medical marijuana. The CARERS Act reflects the will of the public, sponsored by U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Corey Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). Additional co-sponsors include Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Al Franken, D-Minn.
Resistance from the Federal Government
Regardless of the support for medical marijuana and the countless stories that illustrate all the ways that medical marijuana has allowed children and adults to receive treatment for their debilitating conditions that ordinarily would not be able to be treated, the industry still faces federal opposition. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a letter to Congress asking for their support to spend federal funds on cracking down on the legal medical marijuana industry. He cites the opioid epidemic as a reason for the crackdown although all the facts show that in states where marijuana is legal in some form, there are approximately 23 percent less opioid related hospital visits from heroin use and prescription opioids. Marijuana has proven to be an effective cure for the country’s opioid problem. Nonetheless, Sessions seeks to go after an industry that has legally saved the lives and improved the quality of life for children and adults suffering from debilitating disorders.
The CARERS Act offers protection from this kind of potential prosecution and protects an industry that has helped millions of Americans.