Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young recently joined Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) to introduce H.R. 1538, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies, recognize a legitimate use for marijuana at the federal level, and allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend safe and effective marijuana-related treatments. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a companion to S. 683, introduced earlier this month by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
“The topic of medical and recreational marijuana has always been an issue of states’ rights for me, a position based upon a strong belief in the 10th Amendment and the principals of federalism established by our Founders,” said Congressman Don Young. “The CARERS Act aims to protect states that have legalized medical marijuana and allows them to properly enforce their own laws. My position aims to reaffirm the states’ rights to determine the nature of criminal activity within their own jurisdictions, which I believe is critical for states to effectively legislate within their borders.”
“Drug policy reform is long overdue, but I am pleased that today it is an issue that unites both Democrats and Republicans,” said Congressman Steve Cohen. “The science has been in for a long time, and keeping marijuana on Schedule I—with heroin and LSD—is ludicrous. I am pleased to join with Congressman Don Young in introducing this important bill to bring the federal government in line with the science and the American people, respect states’ rights, remove the threat of federal prosecution in states with medical marijuana, and help our citizens access the treatments they need.”
This legislation, which builds upon previous House efforts, would not legalize medical marijuana in any state but would force the federal government to respect states’ rights to set their own medical marijuana policies and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana. Roughly a dozen additional states recognize a medical use for cannabidiol (CBD), a therapeutic compound derived from marijuana.
If passed and signed into law, the CARERS Act would:
- Allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs;
- Reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, recognizing legitimate medical use;
- Allow for greater access to cannabidiol (CBD);
- Allow access to banking services for marijuana-related businesses that are operating pursuant to state law;
- Allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana;
- Cut red tape and expand opportunities for research on marijuana.