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United States: Congress Revives Federal Medical Cannabis Legislation with CARERS Act

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A new federal bill, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS), sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), would take four major actions to protect state medical marijuana programs. The bill would prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws, allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend cannabis in legal states, expand research on cannabis, and remove cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

U.S.: 11 Lawmakers Urge Congress To Include Medical Marijuana In Funding Bill

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U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal.

Although the provision passed both chambers of Congress, it was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Conference Report failed to include Senators Daines and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) amendments that would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in 26 states which have medical marijuana programs. The amendment does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren Joins Fellow Senators Asking For Update On Marijuana Classification

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has signed on to a letter asking the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice for an update on their decision to reclassify marijuana at the federal level.

Currently, marijuana is classified as a "Schedule I" drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The classification is for "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

The DEA and other agencies earlier this year said they plan to release a determination in the first half of 2016 on re-scheduling marijuana.

"While we appreciate the DEA's willingness to maintain an open dialogue with our offices, we are concerned that 'the first half of 2016' is coming to a close and no rescheduling announcement has been made," the letter from Warren, D-Mass., and others said.

"We continue to believe that the rescheduling of marijuana and the resolution of other regulatory barriers to research is a time-sensitive matter that requires immediate action," the senators added.

In addition to Warren, the senators include Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland; Barbara Boxer, D-California; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.

U.S.: Members of Congress Tell VA To Allow Veterans Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A broad group of legislators from both parties on Wednesday sent a letter to the Veterans’ Administration (VA) demanding a change in policy to allow veterans to access medical marijuana. Currently, veterans are prevented from having full conversations about medical marijuana with VA doctors, and the same VA physicians are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“Vets have served their country, and the least we can do is give them the care they require,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It is shameful that the VA prevents veterans from accessing a treatment for pain relief and PTSD.”

“Current VA policy is doing a disservice to veterans by preventing their doctors from exploring all possible treatment options," said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We trust VA physicians to prescribe painkillers and other prescription drugs that are far more addictive and infinitely more lethal. Why can’t we trust them to recommend medical marijuana to the patients who they believe could benefit from it?

New York: Sen. Gillibrand, State Sen. Savino To Headline Cannabis Business Summit

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will deliver a noon keynote address on Monday, Sept. 21, at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Fall Regional Cannabis Business Summit, taking place at the Wyndham New Yorker in New York City, Sept. 21-22.

New York State Senator Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island) will also speak at the Summit, delivering the morning keynote on Tuesday, Sept 22. Other speakers at the event include two of the first licensed medical marijuana providers in the state of New York.

NCIA’s Fall Regional Cannabis Business Summit provides a platform for cannabis business professionals throughout the East Coast - including New York’s emerging medical marijuana market - to discuss best business practices and patient care, while also building a regional community and gaining valuable education on relevant policy issues.

NCIA brings its Cannabis Business Summit series to New York City at an essential time. New York is about to become the newest state to bring critically ill patients legal and safe access to life-changing medical marijuana therapies. Recently, the state awarded the first five licenses for medical marijuana providers, and two of the successful applicants - Hillary Peckham of Etain and Collete Bellefleur of Bloomfield - will share their insights in an intimate discussion at 9:15am on Monday.

New York: Sen. Schumer Throws Weight Behind Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

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Senator Chuck Schumer Joins NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Sponsoring the CARERS Act, a Bill that Would End Federal Prohibition of Medical Marijuana

New York Patients and Families Applaud Schumer for His Support

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill. The CARERS Act, introduced in March by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rand Paul (R-KY), would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.

The move comes just days before New York State is expected to announce the names of five companies that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana in New York. New York’s medical marijuana program is expected to become fully operational in January 2016.

New York patients expressed their gratitude for Senator Schumer’s support.

“Chuck Schumer sided with patients and their families yesterday when he agreed to co-sponsor the CARERS Act,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem, N.Y., whose daughter Morgan suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “I’m proud to be from a state where both Senators – Gillibrand and Schumer – have recognized the importance of medical marijuana.

"Families, like mine, should be able to use medical marijuana when a doctor recommends it without having to worry about federal interference," Hintz said. "I hope the rest of our leaders in Washington will follow the lead of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, act quickly to pass the CARERS Act, and help relieve patient suffering.”

U.S.: Senators Tell Federal Agencies To Remove Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

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FDA and NIDA officials express support for ending NIDA’s DEA-mandated monopoly on marijuana available for research purposes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.

They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.

U.S.: Senate Members To Investigate Barriers To Researching Marijuana Extract CBD

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The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana being used in the treatment of seizure disorders and other medical conditions, and federal obstacles to studying its efficacy.

The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits” will be led by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who have long been opponents of efforts to reform federal marijuana laws.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have been invited to participate. They are sponsors of the CARERS Act, bipartisan legislation that would resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws.

The hearing is expected to focus on the use of CBD in the treatment of seizure disorders rather than whole-plant medical marijuana and the many other medical conditions for which doctors frequently recommend it. It is also expected to focus on federally regulated distribution channels rather than state-regulated medical marijuana providers.

WHAT: Hearing on CBD research and efficacy

WHEN: Wednesday, June 24, 9:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226, Washington, D.C.

WHO: Dr. John Brad Ingram, child neurologist, University of Mississippi
Dr. Tom Minahan, emergency physician and parent of child with seizure disorder
Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Dr. Kevin Sabet, anti-marijuana activist, Project SAM

U.S.: Americans for Safe Access To Host Advocate Discussion of CNN's Weed 3

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Sunday night continued his groundbreaking reporting on medical marijuana with "Weed 3," which continued to introduce Americans to new stories of patients benefiting from medical marijuana and document the challenges that continue to slow down progress in this critical area.

"Weed 3" included important moments like President Obama signaling his support for medical marijuana and documenting the political commitment of Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to reform federal policy on medical marijuana with the CARERS Act. Patient profiles like that of U.S. veteran Sean Kiernan, who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms again showed Americans that medical marijuana can have tremendous benefits in the lives of suffering patients.

“CNN’s 'Weed 3' showed how patient advocates are fighting for and winning the right to safe access to medical marijuana for themselves as well as researchers,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. “Political leaders like President Obama, Senators Booker, Gillibrand and Paul are supporting medical marijuana reform because they understand the huge difference it can make in patient’s lives.”

"Weed 3" also highlighted the important veterans PTSD study that researchers Rick Doblin and Dr. Sue Sisley are moving forward with despite significant political obstacles that have delayed and threatened to prevent the study from being conducted.

D.C.: Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group To Host 3rd Annual Conference

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Scientists, patients, doctors, advocates, lawyers, policymakers unite to further advance public health policy reforms

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), will hold its third annual national Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning," in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015.

The conference will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Tuesday, March 31, ASA will host a press conference at 11 a.m., followed by a lobby day with hundreds of patient advocates.

What: Third Annual National Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning"
When: March 27-31, 2015, including a press conference at 11 a.m. on March 31
Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 1177 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; press conference will be on the Capitol grounds
Media is invited to attend the conference at no charge; participants are encouraged to register in advance.

"Patients and advocates are excited to be gathering this year after an historic victory in Congress, which paved the way for a very promising bill in the U.S. Senate," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Hundreds of patients and advocates will gather in the nation's capitol next week with a unified goal to urge Congress to adopt sensible federal medical marijuana policy reform."

U.S. Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum In Senate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's funny what a difference a week makes. Last Tuesday, when a federal medical marijuana bill was introduced by three Senators, many political observers dismissed its chances out of hand. But now the push to legalize medicinal cannabis at the federal level is gaining momentum in the Senate, drawing co-sponsors from both parties.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, provide access to banking services for cannabis businesses, and potentially fuel more medical research into the herb, reports Jake Miller at CBS News.

"The time has come for the federal government to stop impeding the doctor-patient relationship in states that have decided their own medical marijuana policies," said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada), as he signed onto the proposal last week.

"This bipartisan legislation puts Americans who are suffering first by allowing Nevada's medical marijuana patients, providers, and businesses that are in compliance with state law, to no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution," Sen. Heller said.

U.S.: Senators Gillibrand & Booker Meet With Families About Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

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Families with Children & Loved Ones in Need of Treatment Join Senators to Discuss Landmark Proposal to Let States Legalize Medical Marijuana

Leading National Epilepsy Organization Backs Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) on Sunday joined New York and New Jersey families who would benefit from the new bipartisan bill to allow patients in states that have legalized medical marijuana to access the treatment without fear of federal prosecution.

The Senators also announced the support of the Epilepsy Foundation, which has endorsed the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act that Booker and Gillibrand, along with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced last week. The CARERS Act respects states’ ability that set their own medical marijuana programs and prevents federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Both New York and New Jersey have legalized use of medical marijuana.

New York: Senators To Meet With Families About Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

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SUNDAY: Gillibrand & Booker to Meet with NY, NJ Families About New Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill to Allow Patients to Access Necessary Care without Fear of Federal Prosecution

Five Local Families with Children & Loved Ones in Need of Treatment Will Join Senators to Discuss Landmark Proposal to Let States Legalize Medical Marijuana

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) on Sunday, March 15, will join five New York and New Jersey families who would benefit from the new bipartisan bill to allow patients in states that have legalized medical marijuana to access the treatment without fear of federal prosecution.

Both New York and New Jersey have legalized use of medical marijuana.

Earlier this week, Senators Gillibrand and Booker with Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would respect the states that set their own medical marijuana programs and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states.

The families who will meet with Gillibrand and Booker would be able to access treatment for conditions medical marijuana has been shown to help control, like epilepsy and seizures.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Epilepsy Foundation will also join the families and Senators.

Date: Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time: 2:00 PM

U.S.: Senators Introduce Sweeping Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill To Protect Patients

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Hundreds of patient advocates will gather in Washington, DC on March 31 to lobby for passage of Senate bill

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Comprehensive medical marijuana legislation was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate for the first time in the nation's history.

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act to end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and allow states to set their own policies. The CARERS Act is endorsed by several advocacy groups including Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which helped Senate authors develop the legislation.

The CARERS Act will reclassify marijuana for medical use, overhaul the banking laws so as not to punish licensed businesses, allow veterans to have access to medical marijuana, and eliminate current barriers to research.

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws, and another twelve states have adopted laws allowing for the consumption of a specific form of cannabis known as cannabidiol or CBD commonly used to treat seizure disorders.

U.S.: Bill To End Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition To Be Introduced In Senate

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Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law

A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.

U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.

It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.

“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.

"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.

“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.

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