The historic medical marijuana bill a trio of senators plan to unveil on Tuesday has a bit of something for everyone.
The bill, which activists describe as a first for the Senate, would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and implement a number of critical reforms that advocates of both medical and recreational marijuana have been seeking for years, according to several people familiar with the details of the proposal. It would reclassify the drug in the eyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration, allow for limited inter-state transport of the plant, expand access to cannabis for research, and make it easier for doctors to recommend the drug to veterans and easier for banks to provide services to the industry.
“It’s the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill in Congress,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, one of several groups consulted for the bill. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) act grew out of an amendment proposed last year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is being introduced by those two senators in conjunction with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
A number of activist organizations deeply involved with passing medical and recreational marijuana laws at the state level were consulted in drafting the bill, including the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Americans for Safe Access. And advocates say they are generally pleased with what they’ve seen and heard.
“It really is a comprehensive bill—it would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority.
The following are five of the bill’s key provisions, according to several people familiar with the bill.
The historic bill represents another in a long string of victories for marijuana advocates, who have seen voters legalize the drug for recreational use in four states since 2012: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Nearly half the states have legalized medical marijuana and the public support has been growing, with roughly half the nation supporting legalization according to several polls.
The political winds have been shifting, too. Three potential Republican presidential candidates—Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush—have come out in support of state legalization laws, though they’ve hedged on their personal support of such policies.
The proposal will be unveiled at a 12:30 p.m. press conference on Tuesday and will be streamed live here. Patients, their families and advocates will join the senators at the press conference.
by Niraj Chokshi
March 9, 2015
What’s In The Historic Medical Marijuana Bill Being Unveiled On Tuesday?