By Steve Elliott
The historic medical marijuana bill being introduced in the United States Senate on Tuesday -- the first ever such bill ever introduced in the Senate -- would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana. Beyond that, however, it would also implement a number of critical reforms that advocates have been seeking for years, according to those familiar with the legislation.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) act grew from an amendment proposed last year by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is now being introduced by those two Senators along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. It would reclassify cannabis, allow for limited interstate transport of it, expand access for research, make it easier for doctors to authorize veterans to use it, and make it easier for banks to provide services to the marijuana industry.
"it's the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill in Congress," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The DPA and other activist organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) were consulted in drafting the bill. Advocates say they are mostly pleased with what they've seen and heard.