Three members of the U.S. Senate announced on March 10 a new proposal to end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act was presented at a news conference by Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Rand Paul.
While the bill does not mandate that all states allow for medical marijuana use, the bill would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration from prosecuting those who provide or use the drug, including patients, doctors and some businesses.
Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said, “Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence and compassion with its marijuana laws. These laws must change.”
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After introducing families with children who use marijuana to combat severe and serious illnesses, New York Democrat Gillibrand said, “I dare any senator to meet with the patients here and say to them they don’t deserve the medicine their doctors prescribe.”
Kentucky's Paul, who is seen as a contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, also released a statement in support of the proposal.
“For far too long, the government has enforced unnecessary laws that have restricted the ability of the medical community to determine the medicinal value of marijuana and have prohibited Americans from receiving essential care that will alleviate their chronic pain and suffering,” Paul said.
Currently, marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug by the federal government, effectively putting it in the same category as cocaine. With the new proposal, marijuana would be seen as a schedule 2 drug, or in the same category as Adderall, which is recognized by the DEA as having a legitimate use.
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Medical marijuana has been more accepted around the nation than legalizing recreational marijuana. Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow for medical marijuana use, with another 12 debating the usage or currently creating legislation to allow for it in the near future.
Medical marijuana may also be used by those with mental illness. If the law passes, Veterans Administration clinics around the country would be able to prescribe medical marijuana to vets with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Those against legalizing medical marijuana point out the ramifications that legalization could lead to.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in 2013, “Drug dealers have families to feed. If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else, and the something else is going to be worse, and the push to legalize this is just wrong-headed. But they say: ‘Oh, well, it’s not going to hurt anybody. It doesn’t lead to dependency.’ Of course it does.”
Bloomberg may have a point. A study in 2012 from the Yale University School of Medicine concluded “alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were associated with an increased likelihood of prescription drug abuse in men 18 to 25.”
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