What’s in The Historic MMJ Bill Being Unveiled

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  What’s in The Historic MMJ Bill Being Unveiled

Posted by CN Staff on March 10, 2015 at 07:56:40 PT
By Niraj Chokshi 
Source: Washington Post 

Washington, D.C. -- The historic medical marijuana bill a trio of senators plan to unveil on Tuesday has a bit of something for everyone.The bill, which activists describe as a first for the Senate, would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and implement a number of critical reforms that advocates of both medical and recreational marijuana have been seeking for years, according to several people familiar with the details of the proposal. It would reclassify the drug in the eyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration, allow for limited inter-state transport of the plant, expand access to cannabis for research, and make it easier for doctors to recommend the drug to veterans and easier for banks to provide services to the industry.
“It’s the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill in Congress,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, one of several groups consulted for the bill. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act grew out of an amendment proposed last year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and is being introduced by those two senators in conjunction with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at a 12:30 p.m. press conference.A number of activist organizations deeply involved with passing medical and recreational marijuana laws at the state level were consulted in drafting the bill, including the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Americans for Safe Access. And advocates say they are generally pleased with what they’ve seen and heard.“It really is a comprehensive bill—it would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority.But the bill has its detractors. Dr. Kevin Sabet, director of the University of Florida’s Drug Policy Institute and an assistant professor there, says that while better research and non-smoked medications are necessary, the bill overreaches.“It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” he said by e-mail. “Why not start work with scientists to incentivize research rather than open the floodgates to Big Marijuana? Most major medical organizations oppose smoked pot as medicine because the risks outweigh any benefits. This bill just isn’t supported by the science, plain and simple.”The following are five of the bill’s key provisions, according to several people familiar with it.1 -- Under the bill, marijuana would be downgraded one level in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s five-category drug classification system. It is currently treated, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, as a Schedule 1 drug—those deemed by the DEA to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The bill would reclassify it as a Schedule 2 drug, joining cocaine, OxyContin, Adderall and Ritalin.2 -- The bill would also make it easier to transport some marijuana between states. While medical marijuana is allowed in 23 states and D.C., another dozen states allow the drug on a much more limited basis. Those states typically allow restricted access to medicine derived from marijuana strains with low levels of THC, the drug’s primary psychoactive component, and high levels of CBD, which is believed to have medicinal benefits. But patients often have no way of accessing such drugs, so the proposed bill would ease restrictions on inter-state transport to facilitate access to such medicine.3 -- The bill would also make it easier for banks to provide services to the marijuana industry as they do to any other.4 -- It would reform the National Institute on Drug Abuse in order to broaden access to cannabis for research purposes.5 -- And it would allow doctors working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in states where medical marijuana is legal to recommend it for certain conditions. The historic bill represents another in a long string of victories for marijuana advocates, who have seen voters legalize the drug for recreational use in four states since 2012: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Nearly half the states have legalized medical marijuana and the public support has been growing, with roughly half the nation supporting legalization according to several polls.The political winds have been shifting, too. Three potential Republican presidential candidates—Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush—have come out in support of state legalization laws, though they’ve hedged on their personal support of such policies.The proposal will be unveiled at a 12:30 p.m. press conference on Tuesday and will be streamed live here. Patients, their families and advocates will join the senators at the press conference.CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the agency in charge of drug enforcement. It is the Drug Enforcement Administration.Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author:  Niraj ChokshiPublished: March 9, 2015Copyright: 2015 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL: -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on March 11, 2015 at 07:31:41 PT:

There's science, and then there's 'science'
The kind of 'science' that Kevin favors. The kind of politically bastardized 'science' represented by Lysenkoism kind of 'science' we've been getting from all the Fed anti-drug agencies for the past 30-40 years. The kind of 'science' whose studies are too full of caveats like 'should'...'could'...'might'...'may'. etc 'cause harm' but can't give a single solid, unequivocal example. This has infected the whole of the sphere of research on this matter. An apocryphal tale: a long-time friend of mine is an internationally known author who has had books published in at least 8 languages. He attended an anti-drug conference in 2003, and his observations were that the majority of the audience thought the Fed officials were, in a word, daft. He described Nora Volkow and Andrea Barthwell as being 'really out there'...and not in a good way. The politics had so warped the Feds that that warpage was also conveyed to the audience, at least as far as being forced to sit and listen to outright insanity purveyed as policy.But none of the actual medical researchers, who knew they were being handed a load of bull, spoke up to challenge the (factually false) orthodoxy. They were all dependent upon Federal grant money for their studies.The DrugWar has twisted honest science so hard, it's been torqued into something that a resident of the Soviet Acadamey of Sciences of Lysenko's era would have instantly recognized.Lysenko must be laughing his  $$ off in his dacha in Hell. At least as far as American science went, WRT drug prohibition research, the Commies won.  
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on March 10, 2015 at 21:38:05 PT

He is over learned !
Sabet is one of those individuals who over capasitated his brain. I see many of our higher learned folk with more knowledge than they know what to do with or in the case of Dr. Sabet, had just learned enough to be confused.It is not enough to just learn stuff, you gotta know what it means!
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Comment #2 posted by observer on March 10, 2015 at 17:20:45 PT

re: The Unteachables
and mentioning the unmentionables reminds me of other famous untouchable prohibitionists like The UnteachablesTooter Turtle #7 "The Unteachables (or) The Lawless Years"

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Comment #1 posted by observer on March 10, 2015 at 12:55:06 PT

The Unmentionables
Sabet: "This bill just isn’t supported by the science, plain and simple.”But of course, the continued arrests and incarceration of people for pot is "supported by the science". It must go without saying: because Sabet nor this article let slip that not arresting and imprisoning people for pot is the main point and most salient, noticeable feature of such medical marijuana bills. I'm assuming that it must be too gauche or impolite to mention arrests for pot, prison for pot, or certainly such things as forced-worked in prison (i.e., slavery), or torture in prison for pot (especially if you refuse to work as a slave), and certainly rape in prison, for pot. All subjects relevant to this bill, as ceasing the incarceration of certain people for medical marijuana is the bill's whole point. But again, apparently is it simply too gauche, common, crass, or low-class to mention such unmentionables like prison for pot. Thank you, Mr Sabet, from sparing the weaker from amongst us, from hearing of such things like prison for pot.
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