There is a growing media frenzy a new Senate bill titled: The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would drastically curtail the involvement of the federal government regarding state-legalized medical marijuana programs and would also seem to encourage more research into the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant through a series of important major changes in federal law.
“This bill that we are introducing seeks to right decades of wrong” said Senator 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. Today, we join together to say: Enough is enough.”
Kate Hintz and her daughter Morgan, who Ms. Hintz said suffered another seizure right as Senator Gillibrand spoke at the press conference, explained the urgency and importance of this new legislation for people like Morgan and the public at large. “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.” The Hintz family are New York state residents and proud advocateds for legalizing the use of CBD cannabinoids, which have proven to be a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is extremely effective in treating certain kinds of ailments that cause seizures. You can watch an especially effective TED Talk on the topic by the creator of the Charlotte’s Web Marijuana strain right here on the Weed Store Reviews Weed Tube. “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” concluded Ms. Hintz.
The new bill covers many aspects of marijuana legalization for medical purposes but falls short of legalizing recreational weed to any great extent. Some of the key elements of the bill are explained below:
Protection of Legal State Use From Federal Prosecution
The bill clearly and succinctly provides important assurances that Patients, Doctors and Businesses may participate in their own states regulated medical marijuana programs without any fear of being prosecuted on the federal level by amending the Controlled Substances Act so that states can each set their own medical marijuana policies. This would entirely eliminate any controversy over states rights and federalism while clarifying the intended result that each state is free to decide for itself which regulations make the most sense. No state would be required to allow any particular rules or laws of any other state, but would be free to create its own medical marijuana laws without any reprisals or legal actions by the federal government.
As of today 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in one way or another. While those regulations vary state to state at a great extent, this new bill would sanctify each state’s own sovereignty and prevent overreaching enforcement attempts by any federal agency. 12 other states have legalized a limited use of low-THC marijuana (like Charlottes Web described earlier) for medical purposes. All 34 of the state involved and all people acting in compliance with the laws of their state would now be protected if this bill becomes law.
Reclassifying Marijuana As A Schedule II Substance
The Controlled Substances Act sorts all controlled substances into five categories. “Schedule I” is reserved for substances that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) believes are the most likely to be abused with litter or zero medicinal value. Marijuana has wrongfully been classified as Schedule I substance for decades, as if it belongs in the same grouping with harsh chemicals like heroin and LSD. This new legislation would finally reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule II substance, making it an item deemed less dangerous with an accepted medical use. Rescheduling marijuana is a very important step because it implicitly demonstrates acceptance by the federal government of the long argued fact that cannabis can have medical benefits. That change in classification would open the door to far more research and enable many institutions to provide funding for medical research with cannabis.
Descheduling Low-THC Strains Of Marijuana
Recreational weed enthusiasts seek out high-THC forms of marijuana to derive a physical, emotional or spiritual high. However, there are a growing number of Low-THC strains being produced for the medicinal value of the high CBD levels and cannabidiol compounds that have proven to have tremendous medicinal value without making the patient high in any sense of the word. Since these low-THC forms of cannabis have little or no possibility of being ‘abused’ for recreational purposes, the new law would remove any marijuana with less than 0.3 percent THC from the Controlled Substances Act’s Schedules entirely, therefore allowing states to import or export low-THC strains for patients that need it and completely decriminalizing its use in ways that may eventually allow for over-the-counter medications in pharmacies akin to aspirin or ibuprofen.
Banks Allowed To Work With Medical Marijuana Businesses
Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. according to several economic reports and yet, the vast majority of more than 1 billion dollars in verifiable annual revenue is restricted from being put into bank accounts or prevented from allowing shoppers to buy weed with credit cards because banks fear they may inadvertently become implicated as money launderers. Many marijuana businesses are forced into cash-only transactions, which puts lives at risk because so much loose cash is stored or transported from weed stores to safer locations. It also creates problems with employee payroll, and even though the Treasury Department issued a 2014 guideline to handle payroll in a fully compliant manner, most banks continue to avoid accepting ‘tainted’ weed money on any level because the plant industry remains illegal under federal law. This new legislation would wipe away restrictions and allow banking access for legal medical marijuana businesses.
New Research & Development With Cannabis Plants
Currently, any research conducted with any form of cannabis plants requires a full Public Health Service Review. That arduous process was established in 1999 by the federal government, after a 1998 Institute of Medicine report called for far more scientific research into the medicinal value of marijuana. To this day it remains a process that no other Schedule I substance is burdened by and it is so unnecessarily convoluted that researchers and lawmakers have criticized it with near unanimity for making meaningful research slower, more expensive and harder to produce. The new bill would entirely eliminate the extra step of a Public Health Service Review permanently and would go even further to allow private businesses or states to engage in cannabis medical research, effectively ending a long-standing federal monopoly of marijuana R&D nationally.
Veterans Benefits Extended
Doctors working for the Department of Veterans Affairs are currently prohibited from prescribing or aiding patients who seek medical marijuana, even when working in states where marijuana is legal. This new legislation lifts that ban and allows VA doctors to recommend or prescribe medical marijuana for veteran patients suffering from relevant conditions, in states where it is otherwise legal to do so under state law.
So far The CARERS Act already has the support of more than 20 high-profile policy organizations including: the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Safe Access, Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Weed Store Reviews and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
“The CARERS Act does not go as far forward as we would like, but it definitely takes us out of the dark ages” said Stewart Tongue of WeedStoreReviews.com “While we would like to see Congress enact legislation to fully legalize the use of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes nationally, we do understand the deferential position these Senators have taken with regard to States rights. We anticipate States will eventually see the light on their own and will legalize one at a time as they follow the examples set by Colorado, Washington and Alaska. Then a similar Act to CARERS will need to be legislated to cover recreational use. We have worked hard to get this far, and we will continue to work even harder to reach the eventual goal of personal freedom for every adult citizen of the United States on a state and federal level nation wide.”