- Proper medical research cannot be performed due to federal schedule 1 classification.
- Many patients suffering due to restricted access to effective medicines
- Banks will not work with dispensaries and growers due to federal classification
Last year, a policy was adopted by congress in the appropriations bill which would stop federal funding of enforcement actions against medical marijuana patients.
Today, a Senate Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana was proposed by Kirsten Gillibrand, Rand Paul, and Cory Booker, which would allow the rescheduling of marijuana from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 2. The proposal is called the “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act”.
Marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug currently, along with hard drugs such as heroine, meaning that the substance is federally classified as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States recognized. However, about half of the US states now have a medical marijuana program of some kind (23 States & the District of Columbia), with more states following behind, and many medical uses have already been identified through state legalization, case studies, and scientific research.
If marijuana is reclassified as schedule 2 status, it would be associated with a revised definition as still having potential for abuse, but would be recognized on a federal level as having an added “accepted medical use in treatment” definition, along with other more dangerous drugs like Oxycodone and Morphine. This bill could open the door for states to decide for themselves in entirety on their medicinal cannabis programs without fear of breaking any federal laws. It would also allow research into the substance to flourish to a greater extent, and perhaps even contribute to further federal funding feasibility of research programs.
This bill is coming to the floor with bipartisan support, with Booker and Gillibrand being liberal Democrats and Paul being very conservative. The proposal was presented primarily as helping to eliminate a severe hindrance to many families and children being able to receive effective medicines for diseases, and also of those medicines being able to be put into effective research programs.
Several stories were told of families and children who have been plagued with having to utilize serious psychoactive compounds for cancer pain and epilepsy. These treatments are often times minimally or only partially effective. A child named Morgan was present at the conference who suffers from Dravet syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. This child actually had a seizure during the conference.
Small doses of medical marijuana compounds (in particular, non-psychoactive CBD) are now known to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of seizures a patient encounters. This is especially effective in small children. We also heard from a stage 2 MS patient, and a military veteran who served his country for 6 years but classifies himself as a federal criminal because of the medicinal treatment he uses to treat his PTSD condition.
Cash is also a very big problem since the banks will not work with dispensaries and growers in a financial capacity for fear of being shut down by the federal government. This bill would solve that problem.
One of Senator Gillibrand’s closing comments:
“I dare any senator to meet these patients here and to tell them that they don’t deserve the access to the medicine that their doctors prescribe…. I am asking the attorney general to act now”.