Federal bill would protect medical marijuana states, provide access to veterans
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has reintroduced legislation to protect patients in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.
The bill introduced Thursday is known as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. It would not legalize medical marijuana federally, but would amend federal law to officially allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies. Under the bill, Veterans Affairs physicians would be able to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients, which they are currently barred from doing.
The bill would prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in states that choose to legalize medical marijuana.
The sponsoring senators are: Al Franken (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah). The House version of the bill is sponsored by representatives Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska).
“Federal policy in this space has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion,” said Booker in a statement. “This bill will help ensure that people who can benefit from medical marijuana – children, the sick, and our veterans – can do so without worrying about the federal government standing in the way.”
Young issued a statement of support, speaking to the problems faced by his constituents in Alaska, which has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. “I’ve heard from my constituents who have experienced the many challenges associated with the conflicts between state and federal laws,” he said. “Including business owners who are prevented from using the banking system and tax code, veterans who cannot access alternatives to opioids, and even the state which has run into problems collecting tax revenues.”
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