Of Note: At the end of the 113th Congress in December 2014, Congress included a measure in the so-called “Cromnibus” preventing the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from prosecuting medical marijuana cases
where the defendants are complying with state laws. That followed an
uptick in raids related to medical marijuana, which led some to criticize the Obama administration for its stance on large-scale producers and retailers of marijuana.
Sponsoring Rep. Steve Cohen (D-NJ) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to give state marijuana laws primacy over the federal prohibition, and allow states to legalize and regulate their own marijuana markets:
“The national consensus on medical marijuana is solid and bipartisan, but our federal drug laws continue to treat patients and their doctors like criminals. Our bill would bring federal medical marijuana policy in line with the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans by allowing states to set their own marijuana laws, allowing patients, including veterans, to receive the treatments they need from their doctors and improving opportunities for research on marijuana.”
When he originally introduced this bill in the 114th Congress, Rep. Cohen said of his bill:
“Drug policy reform is long overdue, but I am pleased that today it is an issue that unites both Democrats and Republicans. The science has been in for a long time, and keeping marijuana on Schedule I -- with heroin and LSD -- is ludicrous.”
On the other side of the aisle in the Senate in the 114th Congress, this legislation received bipartisan support from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who signed on as a lead cosponsor, adding:
“We want to take [marijuana] down to Schedule II, so doctors can
prescribe this more easily. We don’t want doctors to be punished for
simply trying to help people.”
The Veterans Cannabis Coalition, along with the Southern California Veterans Coalition, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, and others, supports this bill. In a letter to Reps. Cohen and Don Young (R-AK), the Veterans Cannabis Coalition writes:
"The CARERS Act would fulfill several immediate needs of national cannabis reform such as enshrining certain protections for legally compliant individuals and businesses dealing with medical cannabis... The Veterans Cannabis Coalition is joined by veteran advocates from across the country in supporting this effort at broad reform, including: Southern California Veterans Coalition, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Veterans Ananda, Marine Qweenz, Operation EVAC, New England Veterans Alliance, Florida Mission Zero, and Veterans Alliance for Compassionate Access."
In some states where medical marijuana has been legalized, there have been accusations of people abusing the marijuana they’re entrusted to grow as caregivers, or that the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card is too easy.
This bill has four cosponsors in the current Congress, including three Republicans and one Democrat. Last Congress, it had the support of 30 bipartisan cosponsors, including 16 Democrats and 14 Republicans, but didn't make it out of committee. In the 114th Congress, it had the support of 43 cosponsors, including 29 Democrats and 14 Republicans, but didn't make it out of committee.
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Dank Depot)