Thursday, March 12, 2015
As noted in prior posts here and here, the biggest news this week in the marijuana reform arena has been the introduction of a bipartisan federal medical marijuana reform bill by Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, the CARERS Act. The preamble to this bill expressly provides that its purposes are to "extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana."
Notably, this statement of purposes and the overall structure of the CARERS Act would seem to be in harmony with the stated goals of the leading figure and group opposing significant marijuana reform, namely Patrick Kennedy and Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Notably, on this page under a picture of Patrick Kennedy, SAM proclaims it is "acting in the best interests of public health and safety." In addition, Kennedy in this recent commentary piece stated that he favors "reforming our drug laws and emphasizing public health" and that we "should indeed reform broken laws that disproportionately harm ethnic and racial minorities and the poor."
Similarly, this About page on the SAM website states that the organization is comprised of "medical doctors, lawmakers, treatment providers, preventionists, teachers, law enforcement officers and others who seek a middle road between incarceration and legalization [to provide a] commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety" (emphasis added). In addition, this SAM information page about cannabis-based medicines states that SAM advocates for "rapid expansion of research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms" and a special FDA reform that "allows seriously ill patients to obtain non-smoked components of marijuana."
Based on these various stated commitments by Patrick Kennedy and SAM, I certainty think it would be quite consistent with their advocacy or them to support expressly and vocally the CARERS Act. As I read the CARERS Act, it seeks to cautiously reform federal marijuana laws that are obviously "broken" because they fully preclude state lawmakers and administrators, researchers and doctors from being seriously involved and invested in reforms to state marijuana laws "based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety." In addition, something like the CARERS Act is absolutely essential for rapid expansion of medical research in this arena. Indeed, the powerful press conference introducing the CARERS Act had lawmakers, parents and patients all powerfully explaining why federal medical marijuana reform is essential to ensuring more needed medical research, and in order to fully ensure a serious and enduring commitment in both federal and state laws to marijuana policy "based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety."
Notably, there is not yet any mention of the CARERS Act on the SAM website, and I am inclined to guess that Patrick Kennedy and other SAM leaders are working on a formal response. For the reasons outlined above, I sincerely hope that Patrick Kennedy and other SAM leaders soon become vocal proponents of the CARERS Act. Historically, a problematic mix of politics and fear, not reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety, has dominated federal federal drug laws. I hope that SAM will, through support of the CARERS Act, help ensure public that we start turning the corner and head on a sounder scientific and public health path in the months and years to come.
Prior related posts: