Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and the District of Columbia, where lawmakers recognize medical research showing cannabis can alleviate symptoms of serious conditions, including epileptic and seizure disorders in children, cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. Sixteen more states have laws regulating cannabidiol.
However, medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, leaving patients and providers vulnerable to arrest—even if they are in compliance with their state laws. As a currently classified Schedule I drug, federal law restricts medical marijuana research, as well as fair and safe financial services for medical marijuana-related businesses. Senator Gillibrand, along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY), have introduced a bipartisan bill—the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act—to recognize that marijuana has accepted medical use, and that it is the states’ responsibility to set medical marijuana policy.
This bill will:
(1) Recognize States’ Responsibility to Set Medical Marijuana Policy and Eliminate Potential Federal Prosecution
The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act so that states can set their own medical marijuana policies. The patients, providers and businesses participating in state medical marijuana programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.
(2) Allow States to Import Cannabidiol (CBD), Recognized Treatment for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal of definition of marijuana. This will allow youth suffering from intractable epilepsy to gain access to the medicine they need to control their seizures.
(3) Provide Veterans Access
Doctors in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities are currently prohibited from prescribing medical marijuana. The CARERS Act would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.
(4) Expand Opportunities for Research
The CARERS Act removes unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for researchers to gain government approval to undertake important research on marijuana. On June 24, 2015, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand testified in front of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control about the benefits of cannabidiol as medical treatment and the need to make it legally available to patients who live in states where medical marijuana is legal. You can download her testimony as well as the testimony of other witnesses she submitted here.