[JURIST] A bipartisan bill [text, PDF] seeking to change the US federal government’s approach to medicinal marijuana was introduced in the US House of Representatives [official website] Tuesday. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act of 2015, or CARERS Act, was introduced by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-AK) [official websites] and is an identical companion bill to legislation introduced [JURIST report] in the Senate earlier this month by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) [official websites]. The bill would reclassify Marijuana as a Schedule II drug, as set forth in section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC §812(c), text). The reclassification would acknowledge medical uses for the drug. The rescheduling would trigger a comprehensive change [CBS News report] in the way medical marijuana is treated in the country by allowing states to create their own medical marijuana statutes without federal restrictions, allow medical marijuana dispensaries to access the banking system and allow Department of Veterans Affairs [official website] doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in states where it is permitted.
The legalization of medical marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] has found even more legal support [Marijuana Policy Project website] in recent months. In February Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe [official website] signed [JURIST report] a legislative measure [HB 1445] aimed at permitting use of medical marijuana oils for individuals suffering from severe forms of epilepsy. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed [JURIST report] legislation that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana.