Historic Federal Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana Rolled Out Today [FEATURE]

A bipartisan trio of senators today introduced historic legislation to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) filed the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and allow states to set their own policies.

Senatory Cory Booker (D-NJ) (Bbsrock/wikimedia.org)
"We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose-recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows," said Sen. Booker. "Doctors and patients deserve federal laws that are fair and compassionate, and states should be able to set their own medical marijuana policies without federal interference. I am thankful to Senators Gillibrand and Paul as well as the Drug Policy Alliance for their hard work on this common-sense bill to make medical marijuana accessible to the millions of Americans who could benefit from it." 

The bill would reclassify marijuana for medical use, allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, overhaul banking laws to allow licensed medical marijuana businesses to use financial services, and open up more research possibilities for medical marijuana.

In addition to the Drug Policy Alliance, the senators also consulted with the Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, and other voices for patients in drafting the bill. Although nearly half the states have passed medical marijuana laws (and a dozen more have passed limited CBD cannabis oil laws), marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That means patients and providers in medical marijuana states are still at risk of federal prosecution and families and patients in non-medical marijuana states must relocate or travel long distances to get treatment, facing the risk of prosecution in non-medical marijuana states along the way.

"I am so happy to support this bill. As the mother of a child with a severe seizure disorder, anxiously waiting to get access to a medication that is already helping thousands of others is unbearable," said Kate Hintz, a New York resident who has advocated for CBD to treat her daughter and others to treat epilepsy and seizures. "After persistent advocacy in my home state of New York, we finally saw a medical marijuana law passed last summer.  Yet individual state's laws, including New York's, will not succeed until we lift the current federal restrictions surrounding this plant," she added.

"I applaud Sens. Gillibrand, Booker and Paul for taking this bold step forward and insisting the federal government take action.  Let's end the fear and stigma associated with marijuana, and instead allow this bill to provide research, medicine, and long needed relief to so many. It cannot come fast enough, especially for my daughter," Hintz concluded.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) (senate.gov)
"For far too long, the government has enforced unnecessary laws that have restricted the ability of the medical community to determine the medicinal value of marijuana and have prohibited Americans from receiving essential care that would alleviate their chronic pain and suffering. I am proud today to stand with Sens. Gillibrand and Booker to introduce a bill that will fundamentally change our nation's drug policies and have a positive impact on the lives of our Veterans and children," said Sen. Paul.

While the Obama administration has, in recent years, largely taken a laissez-faire approach to medical marijuana in states that have approved it, that approach is both uneven and dependent on the whim of the administration in power. Just last week, federal prosecutors in Washington state took a family of five medical marijuana patients--the Kettle Falls Five--to trial, threatening them with lengthy, mandatory minimum prison sentences for growing medical marijuana legally under state law (in a state where even recreational marijuana is legal!).

Fortunately for the Kettle Falls Five, a federal jury acquitted them of most charges, including the most serious ones. But under the current state of federal marijuana prohibition, such prosecutions could continue.

Similarly, the Obama administration's recent restraint on medical marijuana is derived from Justice Department guidance to federal prosecutors about which cases raise the level of federal concern high enough to warrant prosecution. That guidance was crafted by a deputy attorney general answerable to Attorney General Holder and the president. Absent protections provided by this bill or similar legislation, a new administration could easily return to the bad old days of DEA raids and patients and providers being hauled off to federal prison.  

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (senate.gov)
"As the parents of severely ill children who could be helped by medical cannabis, we are dedicated to advancing safe, legal and viable access," said Maria De Gregorio, a parent leader of the Kentucky-based Parents Coalition for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis. "Rescheduling efforts must also guarantee access to whole plant extracts that have proven therapeutic benefits. We feel it is crucial to support state rights in all current and future medical marijuana programs. Thus, we strongly endorse this bill as it is written."
"Almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical use; it's long past time to end the federal ban," said Michael Collins, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. "This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine."

"With studies showing that medical cannabis access decreases suicide and addiction rates, the CARERS Act is absolutely necessary to help fix a broken healthcare system for veterans, which deals with suicides and addiction at catastrophic rates," said TJ Thompson, a retired U.S. Navy Third Class Petty Officer. "Now, I'm considered a criminal because of the medication that helps me. I take it illegally to treat my PTSD."

"This comprehensive proposal would effectively end the war on medical marijuana and let states compassionately provide care for seriously ill people without the federal government standing in the way," said Tom Angell, director of Marijuana Majority. "The fact that two young Democrats with likely long political futures have teamed up with a probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate shows how medical marijuana is a nonpartisan, noncontroversial issue that draws support from across the spectrum. With polls showing an overwhelming majority of American voters backing marijuana reform, you’d think taking up this proposal would be a no-brainer for legislative leaders who want to show that Congress can still get things done." 

We shall see. The bill text is not yet available on the congressional website, and it has not yet been assigned to a committee. That's the next step in a long process. 

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Screw medical. Legalize it! I don't know about other states but in mine it is a pain in the ass just to get tylenol 3 let alone getting them to give you medical marijuana if it was legal. The only bill I am interested in is full legalization. After enduring 40 years of drugs being more impossible to come by I am plain sick of it.

Major Movement Expected

Meh, There is a bill in the house intended to completely deschedule cannabis from the CSA. Coupled with this senate bill (If people will write/email their reps/senators) we could begin to finally some major federal movement. I for one never thought we would be this far ahead this soon. 2015 with looming elections on the horizon, their's going to be some sweaty Repub brows. Lets just hope that they listen this time.

 For Cancer patients, for


For Cancer patients, for kids suffering from Seizures, and for so many others, safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana is a matter of life and death. Its critical that Marijuana be removed from Schedule 1 immediately. Please call the whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President get that to happen, to protect the health and safety of Americans that need Medical Marijuana. Have everyone else you know call them too.

I'm a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research. The clinical evidence of the value of Marijuana as a life saving medicine is now so strong that the need to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 has become a moral imperative. Google Medical Marijuana testimonials. Google Medical Marijuana Cancer Patient Testimonials.

This weekend over 3,000 Americans will die, in pain, of Cancer. Every day after that, 1,500 more Americans will die, after suffering horribly, from it. Every single minute another American dies of Cancer. Every American Cancer patient deserves the right to have safe, legal, and economical access to Medical Marijuana. Every single one.

Americans who need Medical Marijuana shouldn't be used as "Political Footballs" Please call the Whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President take immediate action to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 so American Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe it.

Oncologists have know it for more than a quarter of a Century that Marijuana is a "wonder drug" for helping Cancer patients.

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists wants Marijuana removed from Schedule 1. So does the American Medical Association, the professional society of all Physicians. A strong majority of Americans want Physicians in all 50 states to be able to prescribe Medical Marijuana. So do their Physicians., Cancer patients can't wait.

The need to immediately, completely, legalize Marijuana throughout the world is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, because of its medical benefits and because of the damage prohibition causes to America and to the world.

Complete legalization is critical -- its vital that there aren't "strings" or "hoops" that Cancer patients and others who need Medical Marijuana are forced to jump through.

"Charlottes web" is NOT the solution. Cancer patients and people who suffer from chronic pain need THC, not just CBD. The "Berkeley study", where 96% of stage 4 Cancer patients who had a wide variety of Cancers achieved remission, used high dose Medical Marijuana oil, 72% THC, 28% CBD, 1 gram/day (oral) over a 90 day course of treatment. It was a small study, and not placebo controlled, but those kinds of results are clearly remarkable, have been widely reported on in the press, and demand the need for immediate large scale clinical trials.

More and more present and former members of law enforcement agree about the need to end prohibition, and have formed a rapidly expanding group of current and former undercover cops, FBI, DEA, prosecutors and Judges, from all over the world, called

LEAP -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

because they've seen the damage prohibition causes to America and the world.

See http://www.leap.cc/

I'm a Scientist. Not a politician, not a cop.

But as a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research, I feel even more strongly about the need to ensure that no Cancer patient is denied it, because I'm so impressed with its benefits for Cancer patients.

I urge everyone reading this to PLEASE call and email the Attorney General, the press, Congress and the President today.

Medical Marijuana helps with Alzheimer's, Autism, Cancer, seizures, PTSD and chronic pain, and has helped many Americans, including many veterans, stop using Alcohol, and hard drugs, both legal and illegal ones.

Every minute an American dies of Cancer.

Every 19 minutes an American dies of a prescription drug overdose.

Many vets become addicted to prescription opiates and die from them.

NOBODY has ever died from smoking too much pot.

Cancer patients are seeing remarkable results using high dose Medical Marijuana oil, in many cases achieving complete remission, even for stage 4 cancers -- there are many excellent articles on the web, and videos on youtube with patient's personal stories about their experiences with it -- and every Cancer patient that uses Marijuana to ease their suffering benefits greatly from doing so.

It is immoral to leave Marijuana illegal, for anyone, for even a second longer.

For Cancer patients, its a matter of life and death.

Cancer patients can't wait.

Medical Marijuana has an unmatched safety profile, and for people who suffer from so many diseases, of so many kinds, its a medical miracle -- and the scientific evidence behind it is rock solid.

For Cancer patients, Medical Marijuana encourages apoptosis and autophagy of Cancer cells, while leaving normal cells untouched, is anti-angigogenic, anti-proliferative, and is anti-angiogenic.

Its also synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, making both more effective.

For many Cancer patients its meant the difference between life and death.

For everyone else, its a far safer alternative to Alcohol, and infinitely safer than Cigarettes.

Either take them off the market too, or legalize Marijuana right now.

2016 is too far away, Its too long to wait. Every year we lose more Americans to Cancer than died in WWII.

Between now and the 2016 elections, roughly 1 MILLION Americans will die of Cancer.

And Its a horrible way to die.

easy to write bill

The technicalities of a bill doing what's described above would be easy to write. It would amend the schedules of controlled substances; possibly it could include a provision in the rescheduling rules to forbid the administration from administratively rescheduling it into schedule 1.  It would include a shall-issue provision for licenses to manufacture, distribute, and dispense marijuana so that anyone with a state license would automatically get a federal license covering the same thing.  The banking & research would simply follow as a consequence of those changes.  Probably so would the VA changes; if not, I don't see what could be done to get the VA to prescribe marijuana that wouldn't further intrude on doctor-patient relationships, unless you put in some blanket provision exempting VA docs from review in their MJ prescribing that wouldn't apply to anything else in their medical practice!


I'll bet you ><25 Billion of Drug War money, that the Bill fails. I'll raise you the other 25 Billion of annual Drug War money from taxation, that not a single person on the Hill, or pro-organizations, ask any legislator that votes con, if they receive Campaign Election donations from those commercial operations (constituents to the ONDCP).

Most all legislators receive tax dollars to keep the prohibition of MJ going, thus the tax dollar funding of levels of 50 billion a year.

At State levels, it is illegal for Federal tax dollars to be donated to State candidates, but it happens in every State, and Federal policy makes it impossible to enforce Federal Campaign laws.


The Excuse is Mandate, the procedure is Mandate. At no point can a citizen interfere with Mandate. The only recourse is voting at the State level for legalization, in opposition to "mandate'.on continued prohibition. Granted, Federal level government officials will always want the current levels of financing for the "drug War" to only grow.. and it is almost a certainty that if Mj was legalized tomorrow, those accessing Drug War monies, such as in forced council ling (and whom run the Presidential Election Campaign Management Services for every Presidential Candidate that receives Primary approval for the last 3 decades), will find a reasoning to continue those tax dollar allocations.

A bill is a great thing, but a law is better, which won't get enacted from this Bill. The only tool for the law to be changed is voting at the State level, otherwise, too many greedy hands at the Fed level will always continue Prohibition.

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