Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Major marijuana reform bill introduced in Congress

Path-Breaking Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana In States That Allow It - Jacob Sullum, Forbes:

March 26, 2015 - "This week Georgia’s legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that allows people suffering from certain medical conditions, including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, to treat their symptoms with cannabis oil that is low in THC but high in cannabidiol (CBD)....  But like the CBD laws adopted by 11 other states, Georgia’s bill ... does not legalize production or sale of the medicine it permits patients to take....

"A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 10 and in the House on Tuesday would address that problem by decriminalizing transportation of CBD oil from states that allow its production to states that allow its use. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act also would help patients in the 23 states that allow medical use of cannabis itself. The bill, which has bipartisan support, would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that the federal ban on marijuana does not apply to people who grow, distribute, or use the drug for medical purposes in compliance with state law. Since this is the first time a bill legalizing medical marijuana has been introduced in both houses of Congress, the CARERS Act could represent a turning point in the national debate about this much-maligned plant.

"The bill’s chief Senate sponsors are Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)....So far the CARERS Act has attracted two additional cosponsors in the Senate ... Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska)....

"The bill would eliminate a Department of Veterans Affairs rule prohibiting physicians who work in its medical facilities from recommending marijuana to their patients....

"The bill would eliminate the extra layer of review by the U.S. Public Health Service that is required specifically for studies involving marijuana, and it would instruct the Drug Enforcement Administration to license three sources of cannabis in addition to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA’s marijuana monopoly is a major barrier to research....

"The CARERS Act also would move marijuana from Schedule I, supposedly reserved for drugs with no accepted medical use, to Schedule II, the most restrictive category for prescription drugs.... [M]oving marijuana to a lower schedule would officially acknowledge the evidence that it is a safe and effective treatment for symptoms such as nausea, pain, and muscle spasms....

"Borrowing language from the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2013, the bill would bar federal prosecutors and regulators from penalizing financial institutions for serving 'marijuana-related legitimate businesses.' It would also relieve banks of the requirement to file “suspicious activity reports' on such customers.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2015/03/26/path-breaking-bill-would-legalize-medical-marijuana-in-states-that-allow-it/
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