The declassification of marijuana as a schedule I drug is long overdue. This bill is a nice beginning, but does it do enough to end the war on marijuana?
“This bill we are introducing seeks to right decades of wrong and end unnecessary marijuana laws,” Booker said at a Capitol news conference, where lawmakers were joined by veterans and other patients who use marijuana to relieve pain or suffering. All said they fear prosecution if they move to a different state or if the federal government decides to crack down on medical marijuana use.
“Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence and compassion with its marijuana laws. These laws must change,” Booker said.
“Otherwise law-abiding Americans — bankers, business people, veterans and families — are fearful of unnecessary, expensive, life-disrupting investigations and prosecutions,” Booker said. “Today we join together to say enough is enough.”
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), is a bipartisan bill to extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana. In other words, reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug. A schedule II classification is for less dangerous drugs that have an accepted medical use. To date, 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana and 12 others have legalized the limited use of low-THC marijuana for medical purposes.
One of the most significant goals of the bill is to allow for patients, doctors and businesses to participate in their states’ medical marijuana programs without fear of being prosecuted by the federal government.
Points of emphasis of the bill are as follows:
1. Protection from federal prosecution
2. Reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous substance and descheduling low-THC strains of marijuana (CBD oils)
3. Banks can work with medical marijuana businesses
4. Makes it easier to do research on marijuana
5. Allows access for veterans to receive medical marijuana treatment
Since being introduced, the bill has gained two cosponsors: Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, it remains unclear whether it will be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.