Those desperately seeking some hopeful news from the divided world of modern American politics will find a measure of it in an article published yesterday by John Hudak of the Brooking Institution. In “Why the CARERS Act is so significant for marijuana policy reform,” Hudak explores the growing bipartisan movement to remove existing federal roadblocks to the safe and sane implementation of medical marijuana policies in nearly two dozen states.
“CARERS” is the acronym that’s been developed for the “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act.” This is from Hudak’s article:
“CARERS, as its name implies, addressed policy challenges in a variety of areas, involving a variety of stakeholders. It seeks to protect patient access in states with existing medical marijuana programs from federal intervention. The current state of policy offers patient protection through an informal agreement with the Obama administration. CARERS codifies the collection of Justice Department memos that currently duct tapes together federal marijuana policy.
CARERS also expands opportunities for medical and scientific researchers to study marijuana and its therapeutic uses. The legislation makes it easier for researchers to be registered and approved to study the drug and reduces some of the currently onerous rules research institutions must follow in order for marijuana studies to be conducted on their campuses. The bill also breaks down the current DEA-mandated, NIDA-contracted monopoly on the production of research-grade marijuana by expanding the number of federal government-approved grow operations.
CARERS, among its other provisions, seeks to specifically address two of the biggest challenges the current federal framework poses for state-level medical marijuana systems: veterans’ access and banking issues. The legislation would allow (not require) VA doctors—only in states with legal medical marijuana programs—to recommend medical marijuana to wounded warriors who qualify under a state’s laws. In addition, CARERS transforms current federal banking laws that would allow cannabis enterprises in medical marijuana states to have access to traditional banking services. Those reforms would lower costs to businesses (and thus consumers), shift the medical marijuana market away from its current cash-only system, and ultimately increase the safety that financial products provide firms and customers.”
What makes the proposal even more promising than its substance, however, is the bipartisan support it enjoys. Again, here’s Hudak: Read more