In 2015, a bill was first introduced that was designed to allow states to have legal medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana without any fear that the federal government would step in and enforce existing federal drug laws. This is important, because marijuana is still a Schedule One controlled substance on the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (USCSA).
The previous attempt at the CARERS Act, which stands for Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect State, called for moving marijuana from the highest schedule and moving it down to a Schedule Two controlled substance.As our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys can explain, on some levels that would be a very good move. Moving cannabis to a lower schedule would allow more research to be done on the drug, and that would allow for many more treatments, and it would allow cannabis to gain acceptance from the peer-reviewed medical community. However, it would also allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain jurisdiction over medical marijuana, and every time a producer wanted to claim their product had medicinal value and could treat a specific medical condition, they would need to do extensive clinical testing, adhere to labeling and naming requirements, and seek approval to put their drugs on the market. While this might be helpful to patients, it would be very detrimental to the industry at large.
This law did not get voted in to law by the U.S. Senate in the 2015 Congress, and it died on the floor, as they often say. According to a recent news article from The Motley Fool, the CARERS Act has been proposed again with some major changes. It has bipartisan support, as it has broad democratic support and support from Libertarian members of the GOP, such as Senator Rand Paul.
In this new version of the CARERS Act, there is no attempt to remove marijuana from Schedule One, but it would call for a redrafting of the USCSA to allow states to decide if they want to allow their residents to be able to obtain marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. If this bill passes, it would mean that the federal government would have no power to enforce federal drug laws with respect to marijuana in states where it is legal. This has become more important recently, as the current administration, as led by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III, has said that good people don’t use marijuana. He also said that he does not support the use of medical marijuana, and he said that he intends to prosecute cases despite Congress ordering no funds be spent on enforcing the existing law. This was not a problem with the Obama administration, but until marijuana is legal on a federal level, this can change with any new administration.
One other change that is rather odd in the new version of the CARERS Act is that there is no provision that federally insured banks and credit unions (virtually every bank in the U.S.) can take money from marijuana industry businesses. This means they are cash-only businesses, which creates a major headache.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Law Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
It’s Back! The Senate Just Reintroduced a Potentially Game-Changing Medical Marijuana Bill, June 25, 2017, By Sean Williams, The Motley Fool
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Marijuana Equipment Business is Booming, April 14, 2017, Cannabis Law Group