u.s. senate

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U.S.: House, Senate Bills Aim To Remove Barriers To Marijuana Research

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Medical Marijuana Research Legislation Introduced in House and Senate

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's a major development in federal cannabis legislation this week. Congressmen Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA) will be introducing the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. This bill heeds the calls of the medical research community to address the burdensome processes that currently impede legitimate medical research on marijuana.

The bill is a bipartisan and bicameral solution that removes barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are introducing a similar bill in the Senate.

“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community," said Dr. Harris. "Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research.

U.S.: Senate Committee Allows Banks To Provide Services To Legal Marijuana Stores

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Fourth Straight Senate Victory for Marijuana Reform

Senate Bill Would Also Allow D.C. to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 16 to 14 to allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses. Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. The amendment was offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).

Consequently, many marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, leading to huge public safety issues as businesses become the target of robberies, and are forced to hire armed security to protect their takings.

“One of the motivations for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the illicit market and put marijuana in the hands of a legitimate regulated market,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle.”

U.S.: Senate To Hold Homeland Security Hearing On Alternatives To Drug War

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The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold an unprecedented roundtable hearing on Wednesday morning, June 15, 2016, entitled "America's Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches." The hearing comes at a time where the country is struggling to tackle the opioid epidemic, and policy makers are in search of innovative solutions that avoid the mistakes of the War On Drugs.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), will lay out his vision for ending the war on drugs and forging ahead with new policies based on science, health and human rights. In his written testimony, Nadelmann affirms that "A new approach is needed, one that reduces both the harm caused by drugs and the harm caused by current drug control policies."

“I’ve waited a very long time to be invited by Congress to testify on these issues,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I think it’s a positive sign that political leaders, not just in the states but even on Capitol Hill, now recognize both the failure of the drug war and the need to think outside the box in addressing our country’s drug problems.”

U.S.: Veterans Group Weed For Warriors Praises House Passage of VA Marijuana Measure

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Decorated disabled Iraq War veteran Brandon Wyatt on Thursday applauded Congress for passing a measure today that will help veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal get the medicine they need to fight their battle with post traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

“This is a significant step forward in our cause,” said Wyatt, a lawyer and activist, who staged a groundbreaking free cannabis giveaway last month outside the Veterans Administration clinic in Washington, D.C., for patients suffering from PTSD. “We appreciate the support and efforts of all involved.

"Nevertheless, the job is not finished, because this legislation does not allow all veterans to be provided with the quality healthcare they need in order to be free of the fear of having to self-medicate," Wyatt said. "Easier access doesn’t equate to equal access.”

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-Oregon), only applies to states where cannabis is legal; it doesn't allow for the distribution or use of cannabis at VA clinics or any federal facilities; and it doesn't allow for the VA to cover the costs.

U.S.: Senate Committee Prevents DEA From Undermining Medical Marijuana Laws

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Vote Comes Just a Week After Committee Voted to Allow Veterans Administration Doctors to Recommend Marijuana to Veterans

Nationwide Bipartisan Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Grows Stronger

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted by 21 to 8 to approve an amendment offered by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Marijuana reforms are repeatedly winning votes in Congress,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Letting states set their own marijuana policies is now a mainstream, bipartisan issue.”

After decades of inactivity on marijuana reform, Congress has moved at lightning pace to advance marijuana reform in recent years.

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend marijuana. The Committee approved similar amendments last year as well as an amendment to allow state-legalized marijuana businesses to access banks and other financial services.

The Mikulski Amendment is expected to pass the full Senate as well as the House. Similar amendments were passed by Congress last year and the year before.

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