For the first time in American history, a group of bipartisan legislators have banded together in an effort to repeal the federal ban on medical marijuana. The proposal, which is being sponsored by Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, takes the Obama Administration’s hands-off approach to medical marijuana to a new level by fully eliminating the risk of federal prosecution in states that have established programs for the distribution of medicinal cannabis.
The proposed legislation, aptly entitled the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution,” according to a press release issued by the lawmakers. The bill would also downgrade the DEA’s current Schedule I classification to a Schedule II.
Interestingly, many policy experts are torn in regards to whether the latest proposal will garner enough support to make a change. Some argue the time is right for legislation of this capacity, while others predict it is a dead issue upon delivery. However, regardless of the outcome, marijuana activists believe the bill will stir up some much needed discussion on the topic of nationwide pot reform and force federal lawmakers to lend a voice to the issue, while also facilitating a platform for public debate.
Medical marijuana has been gaining ground in the realm of public opinion for many years. Although the majority of the polls indicate the approval rating for recreational marijuana dwells somewhere within the 52 percent range, some of the most recent surveys pertaining to medicinal use have tilted upwards of 80 percent. What’s more is that medical marijuana is attracting a substantial amount of bipartisan support with more Republican-dominated state legislatures approving bills to legalize the leaf for medicinal purposes than ever before.
If passed, the proposal would be the most significant level of marijuana reform in the United States since the dawn of prohibition.