Senate Bill Would Decriminalize Medical Marijuana In States Where It’s Already Legal

A Senate bill expected to be introduced today would have the federal government ease up on the states that already have legalized medical marijuana, effectively keeping patients, doctors, dispensaries and growers from federal prosecution, and would also remove marijuana from the list of most dangerous drugs, according to reports.

In a bill sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the 23 states (and the District of Columbia) that have legalized medical cannabis would be kept from the baleful eye of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

This means better access for military veterans in those states, as it would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana for medical use, reports the Huffington Post.

In addition, it would knock marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug classification — a category designated for drugs with no accepted medical use, including heroin and LSD — to a Schedule II.

According to the Washington Post, it would also make it easier to transport medical marijuana between some states, as there are about a dozen states that allow restricted access to medicine derived from low THC marijuana. To make access easier for those patients, the proposed bill is said to ease restrictions on interstate transport of such medicine.

The bill would also facilitate the job of banks as they try to provide services to the growing marijuana industry, just like they do other businesses. It would reform the National Institution on Drug Abuse as well, in order to broaden access to cannabis for research purposes.

“This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine,” Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.

To be clear, this wouldn’t make marijuana legal under federal law, but it could pave the way for more research in states that wouldn’t have to worry about federal interference. In the states that have legalized marijuana or decriminalized it to some extent, the federal government has issued guidance to prosecutors to urge them to from targeting marijuana operations in those states.

The bill is expected to be announced today around 12:30 p.m. EST.

Meanwhile, Utah just narrowly defeated a medical marijuana bill in that state, so that means the bunnies there are safe from the munchies for now.

Senate Bill Would Ease Federal Prohibition Of Medical Marijuana [Huffington Post]
What’s in the historic medical marijuana bill being unveiled [Washington Post]