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Contact: Darby Beck                                                 For Immediate Release:

darby.beck@nullleap.cc                                                  March 24, 2015


 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Submit Companion Bill to 
CARERS Act to Allow States to Legalize Medical Marijuana 

Today a comprehensive bipartisan medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced to

the House of Representatives. The bill serves as a companion to the Compassionate

Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would allow

states to set their own medical marijuana policies without fear of federal prosecution.

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

originally introduced the CARERS Act to the Senate earlier this month. Senators Dean

Heller (R-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) co-sponsored the bill most recently. Reps.

Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced today’s companion bill, which

marks yet another significant leap of progress in bipartisan support for compassionate

medical marijuana legislation.

“Police have as much business telling patients whether they should use medical

marijuana as they do performing eye surgery – and with a similar rate of success,” said

Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a

criminal justice group opposed to the drug war. “When you treat a health problem like a

matter for law enforcement, you only endanger the patient, who has no assurance of the

quality or purity of what he’s consuming and must enter the illegal market to obtain it,

and undermine respect for and effectiveness of law enforcement in our society.”

The CARERS Act would foremost allow states to decide their own regulatory policies. It

would also reschedule marijuana from the federal scheduling category I to II, which

unlike schedule I, recognizes medical efficacy and allows more extensive research for

drugs within that schedule, though it is still very restrictive. If passed, the bill would also

permit interstate commerce of CBD (cannabidiol) products. CBD is a non-psychoactive

seizure suppressant found in marijuana that has shown to be effective in reducing the

severity and intensity of seizures, particularly in pediatric epileptic patients.

The bill would also allow banks to work with the legal marijuana industry without fear of

prosecution. Currently, state-legal marijuana businesses and any banks that work with

them might be charged with violating federal marijuana prohibition laws, and could be

accused of laundering money for a criminal organization. The CARERS Act would also

allow doctors within the Department of Veterans Affairs network to recommend

marijuana to their patients, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

(PTSD), which many believe can be alleviated by marijuana. Finally, the bill would also

expand permissions for marijuana to be researched more thoroughly. What little research

has been conducted domestically – and significant anecdotal evidence – both clearly

support the efficacy of marijuana as a medicine, but obstacles to research have remained

a problem for scientists to accurately measure marijuana’s effectiveness in treating

specific conditions in controlled settings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is the

only institution presently permitted to research marijuana.

“No one should ever have to be considered a criminal to get medicine they need,” said

Major Franklin. “There are many patients who need medicine who are foregoing their

preferred treatment for fear of arrest. This is a public health problem that affects people

from across the political spectrum. Prioritizing proper health care for the sick and

disabled is not a partisan issue; it’s a question of basic human rights.”

Last year, President Obama signed into law the federal “Cromnibus” spending bill, which

includes a provision that prevents the Department of Justice from using its money to

create barriers for medical marijuana laws and legally operating dispensaries in those

states. Twenty three states and the District of Columbia all have some degree of medical

marijuana access, and many more state legislatures are considering such measures as


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is committed to ending decades of failed policy

that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption

and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The drug war has

cost more than one trillion dollars and has distracted the penal system’s attention away

from far more important crimes.