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A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators — Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) — announced a bill today that would completely overhaul the federal government’s stance on medical marijuana.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical-marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution,” the senators explained in a joint statement. It would block the DEA from pursuing prosecutions against individuals or businesses participating in the state’s MMJ program.

“This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine,” remarked Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The bill would remove cannabis from its Schedule 1 listing under the Controlled Substances Act and allow Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, which is often pursued by veterans as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If passed, the bill would mark the first time the federal government acknowledges the medicinal value of cannabis. And, while the proposed legislation would not make cannabis legal under federal law, its rescheduling would open up many new opportunities into marijuana research.

The bill would also relax banking restrictions for legal medical marijuana businesses, a move that addresses a long-standing issue for the cannabis industry.

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/03/09/in-a-first-senators-plan-to-introduce-federal-medical-marijuana-bill/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/09/senate-medical-marijuana-_n_6834534.html

http://time.com/3738038/medical-marijuana-congress/

Photo Credit: Mark

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