US senators on Tuesday introduced the most comprehensive legislation on medical marijuana ever brought before Congress, a bipartisan effort aimed at ending federal restrictions on the increasingly accepted treatment.
Twenty-three states already allow the use of cannabis to treat medical conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) and epilepsy, but federal law still exposes users of the drug to potential investigation and arrest.
“Highly-trained officials in our country — doctors and scientists, medical personnel — are unable to prescribe and recommend drugs that could alleviate the pain and suffering of their patients,” Senate Democrat Cory Booker told reporters.
“Today we join together to say enough is enough,” he added. “Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence and compassion with its marijuana laws.”
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would remove federal penalties and restrictions for producing, distributing and possessing marijuana for medical purposes, provided there is compliance with state law.
It would give military veterans access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal, and it would crucially allow financial institutions to provide banking services to marijuana businesses.
It would also reclassify marijuana from “Schedule I” to “Schedule II,” eliminating current barriers to research and recognizing the acceptable medical use of the drug.
Senator Rand Paul, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, pointed to the “tens of thousands of people in our country who have diseases that are incurable and that would like to seek palliative treatment.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said current law was “clearly a case of ideology getting in the way of scientific progress.”
The New York Democrat highlighted the case of constituents whose sick children were in desperate need of treatment unavailable through traditional medications.
Under current law, people who travel to states where medical marijuana is legal would be subject to arrest for crossing state borders and returning home with the drug.
“When a child doesn’t have 100 seizures a day, their brain can actually develop, and they can grow, they can have more moments with their families, with their friends. They can develop emotionally,” Gillibrand said.
Advocacy group Americans for Safe Access called the legislation “groundbreaking.”
Congress last year passed a one-year funding measure including a section that prohibited the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in states’ implementation of their medical marijuana laws.
ASA says Tuesday’s bill goes further by codifying the change, and expanding restrictions on interference with state medical marijuana laws to all federal agencies.
Sandy Fiola, who was diagnosed with MS in 1988, described medical marijuana as an answer to her prayers, after exhausting traditional medicine options.
“In the early stages of my illness, I did not sleep for about four years,” she said, with Booker at her side.
“I obtained some (marijuana) and I tried it. The next thing I knew it was morning, and I cried when I woke up,” she said.
What would Russia prefer to happen in the UK election?
The UK election comes against the background of one of the worst periods in Russian-British relations since the end of the Cold War. Badly shaken by the 2006 poisoning of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, relations spiralled further down in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The poisoning of another former spy, Sergei Skripal, in March 2018 in Salisbury then killed off any hopes of a recovery in bilateral relations.
Why White Island erupted and why there was no warning
Five people have been confirmed dead, 18 have been rescued and are injured, some seriously, and several remain unaccounted for after a sudden volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island off the east coast of New Zealand.
The island is a tourist destination and around 50 people were on it when it erupted on Monday afternoon. Volcanologists at GeoNet, which operates a geological hazard monitoring system, described the eruption as impulsive and short-lived, with an ash plume that rose to more than three kilometres above the vent.
‘Pathetic weenie’ Ted Cruz buried by Morning Joe’s Donny Deutsch for latest suck-up to Trump
Members of the "Morning Joe " panel were both appalled and disgusted after watching a video of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pushing Russian propaganda and defending Donald Trump over the weekend, recalling the ugly campaign the president ran against the Texas Republican in 2016.
Addressing Cruz's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he accused Ukraine of meddling in the 2016 election, host Joe Scarborough marveled out at how the senator debased himself in the service of Trump after what happened to him in 2016.
After the host brought up the interview, MSNBC regular Donny Deutsch had a few things to say about Cruz.