Three U.S. Senators cross party lines to introduce bipartisan legislation that would help those who rely on medicinal marijuana.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill to allow patients and doctors in states that have legalized medicinal marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution.
“Today we join together to say enough is enough,” said Sen. Booker. “Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion with its marijuana laws. These laws must change."
The legislation, dubbed CARERS Act (Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States), would change marijuana’s classification from Schedule I to Schedule II.
“Schedule II, the definition is the drug has a high potential for abuse, but the drug has a currently accepted medical use and treatment in the United States,” explains Sen. Gillibrand. “You have to look at this the same way that opiates are. They’re a powerful drug, but they are going to be used for medical uses. The drug can be prescribed.”
Medicinal marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, while marijuana oil extract is permitted in 12 states to treat symptoms such as epileptic seizures, especially in children. But lawmakers in states where marijuana oil is legal are still facing an uphill battle to make the treatment more accessible to patients.
Just last week in Iowa, State Sen. Joe Bolkcom introduced a bill to allow better access to highly-regulated production and distribution of medicinal marijuana. The issue isn’t allowing patients to receive the treatment…but rather being able to provide the treatment in the first place. Iowa’s marijuana oil law was passed in 2014 by Gov. Terry Branstad, but critics tell the Des Moines Register “the law is practically useless.” The official cards issued in Iowa alert police that carriers have the legal right to possess the extract, but the program does not offer legal means to obtain the medicine. The new legislation introduced by Booker, Gillibrand and Paul would hopefully change that.
“There is every reason to give more ease to people in states who want this,” said Sen. Paul. “Doctors can prescribe this more easily…it has great potential for research.”