Friday, June 16, 2017
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives have reintroduced legislation that would enable states to set their own medical marijuana policies. That is at odds with a letter U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent to congressional leaders, in which he asked that federal medical marijuana protections be reversed. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joined by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., made the announcement on Thursday. Booker addressed the Sessions letter, saying the Attorney General "misrepresents the facts" on medical marijuana. "I dare him to sit down with families and listen to their stories and then pursue a policy like he's advocating for now," the New Jersey senator said.
The legislation reintroduced Thursday would protect patients, doctors and businesses participating in state medical-marijuana programs from federal prosecution.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states. Instead, it would ensure that people in the states where medical cannabis is legal can use it without violating federal law.
In addition to Booker and Gillibrand, co-sponsors of the CARERS Act include Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Al Franken, D-Minn.
Patients and parents who rely on medical marijuana also attended the press conference. Jennifer Collins, a 17-year old Virginia resident, spoke about how medical cannabis helps control her epilepsy.
"People worry that medical cannabis is a gateway drug," Collins said. "We know that's not true. And for me, medical cannabis has been a gateway to a better life."
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