Senate bill would legalize medical marijuana in some states

Senate bill would legalize medical marijuana in some states
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New legislation would protect patients in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical purposes, but would not affect other states that still prohibit pot.

Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs MORE (D-N.Y.) will introduce legislation Tuesday that would partially legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.

If it became law, the proposal would lift the threat of federal prosecution from people who use medical marijuana in states where it is legal to do so, even though the bill does not legalize it in other states.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

The legislation highlights a paradox between state and federal laws. Medical marijuana is still on the federal government’s list of banned substances, despite dozens of states around the country legalizing it.

In some cases, this has enabled federal prosecutors to charge medical marijuana patients who were following their states’ rules.

The Obama administration has said it will not enforce the federal laws against medical marijuana. However, any future president could change that policy.

Last year, Congress adopted a policy in the appropriations bill saying it would not fund federal enforcement against medical marijuana patients.

However, the new proposal is the first fully-fledged legislative attempt at the federal level to allow medical marijuana in some states, sources say.

"The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that advocates for liberalizing marijuana laws.

The senators will annouce more details about the bill during a Tuesday press conference.