If you’re a pro-marijuana advocate (and we are!), there’s no shortage of good news these days, with more and more states voting to legalize marijuana for medicinal use or even recreational purposes. But business owners and even politicians have still been walking on a frozen pond with thin ice when it comes to marijuana, waiting for a crack and crash if the federal government intervened. That’s because although some states have chosen to decriminalize and reform their pot laws, according to our federal government, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled narcotic with all of the jail time, fines, restrictions on commerce, and IRS harassment that comes with the designation.
However, this week three senators introduced a bill that could change all that, replacing the treacherous state vs. federal incongruity with common sense legal consistency. The bill, introduced by Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kristen Gillibrand of New York, and Republican marijuana reform advocate Rand Paul of Kentucky, aims to set the marijuana debate on a solid political plateau going forward. Although the bill does not call for a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, the practical implementation of our laws would mirror the overriding sentiments of the country. Both Democrats and Republicans realize a change is paramount approaching election season in 2016 if they don’t want to be labeled as dinosaurs, with the most recent polls showing an astounding 90 percent of the public are behind legalizing medical marijuana and 46 percent of the population now living in states where that’s already a reality.
Here are some highlights of the bill, which has received unprecedented bipartisan support:
Marijuana would be reclassified from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule II drug. Schedule I drugs are considered extremely harmful and have no accepted medical use, a hypocrisy that’s ridiculous considering we now have decades of research showing marijuana and cannabis helps those suffering fro AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, degenerative conditions, loss of appetite, insomnia, chronic pain, seizures, and other illnesses. The medical community and top doctors are also clamoring for this change. The American Medical Association says that “marijuana’s status as a federal schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.” The American Cancer Society “believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids.”
If the bill passes and marijuana is downgraded to Schedule II, similar to legal painkillers and Adderall, Ritalin, etc., it would prevent the federal government from prosecuting doctors or patients. States, however, would still have autonomy as to whether they wanted to legalize for medical use, but the federal government would no longer be the bully tracking them on the walk home.
The bill would also allow banks and credit unions to legally provide financial services to marijuana businesses like distilleries, grow operations, etc. in states where they are legal, sheltering them from federal harm.
Doctors from the Department of Veterans Affairs would be able to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans under their care, something they’re currently blocked from doing since VA hospitals are federal enterprises.
The bill would open up the gateways to legitimate research by rewriting the current Draconian procedures the Food and Drug Administration has in place for medical marijuana research.
Commerce would greatly be expanded and legitimized, as current shackling restrictions on transporting marijuana from state to state would be amended.