Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) together with other cosponsors have introduced a bill in Congress seeking to protect states that legalize medical marijuana from federal prosecution while making their own laws to regulate the medical marijuana industry.
The bipartisan bill will formalize the respect of the rights of states to pass laws and implement their own medical marijuana programs. Currently, only a Department of Justice spending rider passed by Congress prevents federal prosecutors from using taxpayer money to prosecute individuals who use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes in states where it is legal. That rider, at least hypothetically, doesn’t bar federal prosecutors from using resources from anywhere else to go after cannabis consumers.
The CARERS (Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States) Act wants to remove any doubt that doctors, patients and caregivers risk federal prosecution for doing what is legal in their states.
The bill should not be mistaken to be a clever way of legalizing medical marijuana across the country. Rather, it just clarifies that the states that legalize medical marijuana will not be exposing their residents to the possibility of prosecution by the feds on charges related to possessing or consuming a federally illegal substance.
That threat of prosecution is so real that some states have introduced bills seeking to protect medical cannabis patients’ records from access by federal authorities. Missouri is an example of such states where bills are being considered in this regard.
Furthermore, the CARERS Act will allow doctors treating veterans to prescribe medical cannabis for the conditions which can be eased or treated by the use of medical cannabis. The bill seeks to insulate the doctors and their patients from any legal issues arising from the use of medical cannabis.
The Act will also grant greater access to scientists who would like to conduct investigations into the uses of marijuana. Currently, it is very hard to obtain approval for research, let alone access to high-quality cannabis for such studies.
Congressman Cohen said in a statement he issued that there is bipartisan support for cannabis reform across the country, but the federal laws aren’t in tandem with the wishes of the people because the laws continue to regard people who prescribe or use cannabis as criminals. His bill will try to bridge the gap between what the people want and what the broken laws currently state.
Marijuana advocates have a lot of hope in the current Congress that has just started business. Their hope hinges on the fact that the House is dominated by Democrats who have a track record of being progressive on matters of marijuana law reform. Industry players like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) hope that this bill will succeed in the House and the Senate, and that many others will follow.
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