The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2017 was reintroduced yesterday by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Al Franken and Rand Paul. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mike Lee recently co-sponsored the new version of the bill. The original bill was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker in March 2015, but the revised bill softens two key elements, making it a more realistic proposal.
The proposal is heavily supported by Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “The CARERS Act is vital legislation that will safeguard patients in states with medical cannabis programs, and expand research opportunities so that we learn even more about our medicine,” Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA stated. “For the past three years, we have been the driving force behind this legislation to help push it forward, working hard each and every day to make sure that it would be introduced and included additional co-sponsors this year. We worked closely with Senators and their staff to make sure that important protections were included in the bill’s language.”
The CARERS Act would remove some hurdles on cannabis research and allow doctors from the Veterans Health Administration to recommend medical cannabis in legal states. It would also remove CBD from Schedule I. The new version of the bill, unfortunately, doesn’t remove cannabis from Schedule I like the original version.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled a crackdown on medical cannabis in a May 1 letter that was recently leaked. Booker immediately responded to the release of the letter. “I dare him to sit down with families and listen to their stories and then pursue a policy like he’s advocating for now,” Sen. Cory Booker said.
By removing CBD from Schedule I, The CARERS Act would open the doors to import CBD for patients suffering from epilepsy. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis and the bill would help to begin aligning state laws with the federal government.