Historic Federal Medical Cannabis Bill Crosses Party Lines

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act Endorsed By: Patients Out of Time, American Cannabis Nurses Association, and Veterans for Compassionate Care

Tuesday, March 10 (Washington DC) – Justin Kander
Originally published on: PatientsOutofTime.org

On Tuesday, Senators Cory Booker, Rand Paul, and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill to legalize medicinal cannabis and remove the unnecessary obstacles that patients and caregivers face every day. Known as The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, the bill would officially move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II.

Cannabis is a Schedule I drug that is federally designated as having no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. The placement of cannabis in Schedule I has significantly impeded access to and research of cannabis-based medicines.

There are numerous barriers to conducting federally-approved studies, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s monopoly on the supply of cannabis and an inherent bias against positively-oriented research. Polls show most of the nation wants safe access, and the government is finally starting to listen.

“The CARERS Act would open the door for research opportunities, by removing unnecessary obstacles that are currently preventing cannabis research from moving forward. Eliminating the NIDA monopoly regarding cannabis research allows for a healthy progression of science in the United States.” Said Heather Manus, RN American Cannabis Nurses Association- Board of Directors.

While this classification still says cannabis has a high potential for abuse, it acknowledges legitimate medical properties. As a Schedule II medicine, cannabis could be legally prescribed and far more easily researched. In addition, the bill would end the NIDA supply monopoly by granting three additional production licenses, as well as eliminate the Public Health Service Review hurdle for cannabis research.

“Moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the controlled substances is a major breakthrough for patients because it means that the federal prohibition of this natural medicine has been lifted and recognizes that cannabis does have therapeutic value. Said Mary-Lynn Mathre, President of Patients Out of Time. “Hospitals and nursing homes in the states with medical cannabis laws can now adapt their policies to allow the use of cannabis within their facilities. It’s time for all practicing health care professionals to get educated on the therapeutic use of cannabis and that’s where Patients Out of Time can help.” Mathre explained.

Several other sections of the bill will improve the availability of medicinal cannabis. Strains containing less than 0.3% of THC will officially be removed from the Controlled Substances Act , which will allow high-CBD cannabis products to be shipped across state lines. Dispensaries will also be given the freedom to work with banks, enabling them to safely store their money and more efficiently process transactions.

For years, doctors with the Department of Veteran Affairs have been prohibited from recommending cannabis for soldiers. Section 8 of the CARERS Act specifically allows VA physicians to provide recommendations to patients in legal cannabis states. This provision will substantially enhance access for veterans.

“This bill also allows the VA physicians to recommend cannabis to their Veteran patients if the state has a medical cannabis law.” Said Al Byrne, CEO of Veterans for Compassionate Care. “While Veterans need access to this herbal medicine in all states, at least those Veterans in states with medical cannabis laws no longer have to seek and pay for a civilian physician to get a legal recommendation for this healing medicine.” Said Byrne.

Patients have suffered long enough because of the federal government’s refusal to acknowledge medicinal cannabis. With the CARERS Act, the government finally has a chance to start making things right.

The CARERS Act (Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States) does the following:

  • Ends the federal prohibition of medical marijuana
  • Reschedules Marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II
  • Allows states to import CBD
  • Allows banks to provide financial services to marijuana dispensaries
  • Eliminates the Public Health Service Review obstacle for marijuana research
  • Ends the NIDA monopoly on marijuana research
  • Allows VA physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients

This bill is endorsed by: Patients Out of Time, American Cannabis Nurses Association, and Veterans For Compassionate Care.

(Senator Booker Photo: Eugene Parciasepe / Shutterstock.com)
(Senator Paul Photo: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com)
(Senator Gillibrand Photo: / Wikipedia.org)

About the Author

Justin Kander

Justin Kander is a cannabis extract activist who has attended and presented at numerous medical conferences throughout the world. His recent book Enhancing Your Endocannabinoid System details the best ways to improve the effectiveness of cannabis medicine.

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