Three US senators unveiled what many are calling an historic bill to address medical marijuana. Senators Rand Paul (R- KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) presented the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS) during a press conference on Capitol Hill earlier this week.
Supporters call the bill the most comprehensive legislation ever, which would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana. If passed, marijuana would be downgraded from a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD to a Schedule 2 in line with OxyContin, Adderall and Ritalin. It would also allow some of the drug to be transported between states, and permit federally insured banks to provide service to those in the marijuana business. Up until now, retailers in states where the drug is legal have been forced to do cash transactions and haven’t been able to obtain banks accounts.
If CARERS is passed, researchers will have better access to marijuana to learn better ways to utilize its medicinal properties. Finally, doctors at the VA would be allowed to prescribe marijuana for patients in states where it is legal.
As of now, four states - Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado - have fully legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana. Back in December Congress banned the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute in these states.
Supporters say the CARERS Act will strengthen states’ rights. There is no word on what kind of support it will get from other members of Congress.