NY Senator Gillibrand Challenges Cannabis Industry to Support Federal Reform

It’s time for the federal government to unleash marijuana laws in the United States.

That was the overall message U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent to members of the National Cannabis Industry Association earlier this week in New York City.

In a keynote speech addressing the subject of conflicting state and federal policies governing medicinal marijuana, the Democratic lawmaker told the group that her mission was to pass a nationwide reform that would essentially legalize medical marijuana across the nation. She said the CARERS Act—which was introduced to Congress in March but has yet to receive enough Republican support to get a hearing—could lay the groundwork for crucial changes in the way the U.S. government controls marijuana.

Gillibrand pointed out that despite nearly half the states having legalized marijuana for medicinal use, the illegality of the substance at the federal level has prevented any of these programs from reaching their potential.

“There’s a conflict between state and federal statute that confuses doctors, patients and providers alike,” she said. “People aren’t sure what’s legal, what’s not, and the gray area that resulted is hindering health care and the industry’s development.”

Furthermore, Gillibrand added, that with Uncle Sam’s refusal to reclassify the herb a Schedule II substance, there is a hindrance to important research that is preventing an entire nation from catching up to the progressive attitude already expressed by 23 states and the District of Columbia.

“There’s a grave lack of any marijuana research,” she said. “This is a direct result of federal requirements that only govern the study of marijuana. No other drug, Schedule I or otherwise, has been subjected to the same constraints.”

Although the CARERS Act, introduced by Gillibrand, Rand Paul and Corey Booker, was a highly publicized attempt at legalizing medical marijuana, it simply has not managed to secure enough support from Republican leaders to get off the ground. That’s why Gillibrand urged everyone in attendance to contact their local officials in order get this measure some much-needed attention in the coming year.

“We have a lot of work to be done to pass this law, and I will need every person’s help in this room,” she said. “We have to raise our voices, and tell our elected leaders and ask they support this bill.”

If passed, the CARERS Act “would finally allow families and patients, including our veterans in 40 states that have some form of legalized medical marijuana, to access the basic care that they need without fear of prosecution,” Gillibrand said.

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