Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683) as a co-sponsor. The support of Senator Graham coincides with the one-year anniversary of the bill's introduction by Senators Cory Booker (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY). The CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress and would remedy the state-federal conflict over medical cannabis law.
"Graham's support of CARERS Act is a significant step for patients" said Americans for Safe Access Executive Director, Steph Sherer. "This development should finally compel fellow Republican and Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley to allow the bill a vote. This is the only way to respect the 40 states that have laws recognizing medical use and the more than 80% of voters who support it."
The passage of the CARERS Act would allow state medical marijuana programs to continue without federal interference, move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substance Schedule, remove the marijuana compound Cannabidiol (CBD) entirely from the schedule, create access to banking services for marijuana businesses in legal states, eliminate the DEA-mandated "NIDA-monopoly" that prevents researchers from obtaining marijuana for clinical studies, and allow Veterans Health Administration physicians to write recommendations in states that have established a medical marijuana program.
"I was thrilled to hear of Senator Lindsay Graham's recent support for the CARERS Act," said ASA member and Graham constituent Jill Swing. "We have been working for over two years on creating a medical cannabis program here in South Carolina and the CARERS Act will solidify that legislation once it becomes law, hopefully, as soon as this year."
"As a veteran who has had numerous suicide attempts, veteran to veteran, thank you Senator Graham, from the bottom of my heart for endorsing this legislation and saying I should not be locked in a cage ." said Retired Army Sergeant Jonathan M. Lubecky. "If enacted CARERS will save lives, it will ensure that a veteran, many veterans, will have a family and watch their children grow up, rather than be buried at a young age under the flag of the country they loved." Lubecky recently meet with Senator Graham's office.
Over the last decade, ASA has brought thousands of patients from 46 states across the country to lobby elected officials. Previous ASA lobby days have been successful in moving medical cannabis legislation forward and for the introduction of the CARERS Act. Participants at ASA's 2014 and 2015 conferences helped lay the groundwork to Congress passing the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana conduct.
"I am honored to be working with patient advocates like Jill Swing and Sergeant Lubecky who are the true heros in the advancement of federal policy," continued Sherer. "I am hopeful that the hundreds of voices ASA will be bringing to Washington through our National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference will inspire more brave actions like that of Senator Graham's."
- CARERS Act fact sheet.
- Detailed Analysis of the CARERS Act.
- National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference