The bipartisan CARERS Act would allow the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. It would also lift the ban on Veterans Affairs doctors recommending it to patients in those states.
The bill was reintroduced Thursday by U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), with Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) signing on as cosponsored.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (or CARERS) Act of 2017 would allow individuals and entities to possess, produce, and distribute medical marijuana if they are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It would also open up avenues to medical marijuana research and allow physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal. The bill also proposes excluding cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, from the federal government’s definition of “marijuana.”
This is the second time the CARERS Act has been introduced. It was first introduced on March 10, 2015, during the 114th Congress.
“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”, Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The addition of Sens. Lee and Murkowski as original co-sponsors should inspire other Republicans to seriously consider this legislation and the absurd federal overreach that it seeks to correct. Marijuana is effective in the treatment of several debilitating conditions. The federal government should not be meddling in state laws that allow it or obstructing research into its many medical benefits.
Murphy continues; “Polls show overwhelmingly strong support for medical marijuana, and it spans the political spectrum. There is no better example of an issue that garners the level of bipartisan support necessary to pass meaningful legislation. Twenty-nine states and our nation’s capital have enacted effective medical marijuana programs, and an additional 19 states have adopted laws that recognize marijuana’s medical value. There is no rational reason to continue prohibiting seriously ill patients from using this medicine or punishing those who provide it to them.”