With all the fighting going on in Congress, it’s hard to find almost anything for them to agree on nowadays. One of the few things, it seems to be, is ending medical marijuana prohibition.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group including U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the CARERS Act with new 2017 branding.
The CARERS Act of 2017 (or, if you’re trying to sound smart, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act) basically allows states with medical marijuana to continue doing it, but legally. More importantly, it would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend it to veterans as a treatment, as well as create some important paths for research.
The original bill was submitted in 2015, with Paul, Booker and Gillibrand attached to it. Despite wide media coverage, they weren’t able to get a hearing due to a lack of Republican support.
Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, notes that this is not only an opportunity to advance cannabis law, but also a win for states’ rights.
“The reintroduction of the CARERS Act is the first of many steps we hope this Congress will take to end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana,” he said in a press release. “The addition of Sens. Lee and Murkowski as original co-sponsors should inspire other Republicans to seriously consider this legislation and the absurd federal overreach that it seeks to correct… The federal government should not be meddling in state laws that allow it or obstructing research into its many medical benefits.”
Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have medical marijuana programs, which are technically illegal under federal law. The majority of Americans also support medical marijuana legalization, with an April Quinnipiac University poll finding that 94 percent of U.S. voters support medical marijuana programs.
Is this bill destined to die the same fate as its predecessor, or will it find the support it needs to make it to the table?
We’re in a much different world now than two years ago, for better or for worse, so only time will tell. While we wait, contact your senators and let them know you support the CARERS Act of 2017.