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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Senate Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

The federal medical marijuana prohibition may be on its way out, in the wake of a senate bill introduced on Tuesday by Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, both Democrats, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, The Washington Post reports. The bill, Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, would reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.

“Today, we join together to say enough is enough. Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense,” Booker said at a news conference.

If the CARERS Act passes the senate, individual states will no longer be tied up by the federal government regarding the drug's use as a medication, according to the article. It would also permit banks and credit unions to provide equal services to the marijuana industry as they do to other businesses, no longer fearing federal prosecution.

“We’re going to approach all our colleagues,” Gillibrand said. “This is the first step of a long process of advocacy.”

While republicans have long contested the value of marijuana in the medical setting, some, even staunch Republicans like potential presidential candidates Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, have been in favor of state’s rights to legalize the drug without having to support such policies. It becomes difficult to be against states legalizing the drug while simultaneously being an advocate of states' rights.

As of right now, there are 23 states plus the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana. To be clear, the CARERS Act would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states, but would prohibit federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in states that have medical marijuana programs.

Advocates of the bill believe that the CARERS Act lays the foundation for a public, high-level discussion about legalizing the drug for medical use, according to the article.

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