Tuesday, March 10, 2015
By now you've heard that Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have introduced a federal medical marijuana bill. It doesn't seem that the text of the "Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act" -- who comes up with these acronyms? -- is public yet, but this is a summary of what supporters are saying about the bill, via the Washington Post:
- Under the bill, marijuana would be downgraded one level in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s five-category drug classification system. It is currently treated, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, as a Schedule 1 drug—those deemed by the DEA to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The bill would reclassify it as a Schedule 2 drug, joining cocaine, OxyContin, Adderall and Ritalin.
- The bill would also make it easier to transport some marijuana between states. While medical marijuana is allowed in 23 states and D.C., another dozen states allow the drug on a much more limited basis. Those states typically allow restricted access to medicine derived from marijuana strains with low levels of THC, the drug’s primary psychoactive component, and high levels of CBD, which is believed to have medicinal benefits. But patients often have no way of accessing such drugs, so the proposed bill would ease restrictions on inter-state transport to facilitate access to such medicine.
- The bill would also make it easier for banks to provide services to the marijuana industry as they do to any other.
- It would reform the National Institute on Drug Abuse in order to broaden access to cannabis for research purposes.
- And it would allow doctors working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in states where medical marijuana is legal to recommend it for certain conditions.
Many observers think the bill is likely D.O.A., given the priorities of both Republican and Democratic leadership and the Obama Administration. But when dealing with a logjam it's always good to see the first log start to shift, even a little bit.