Bill expands access to medical marijuana

Bill expands access to medical marijuana
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Medical marijuana patients would be protected from federal arrest under new legislation in the House.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act introduced late Monday by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungCongress: Pass legislation that invests in America's water future Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns Deceptions may sink plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge MORE (R-Alaska) paves the way for access to medical marijuana around the country. Similar legislation was introduced earlier this month in the Senate.

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The legislation would give many military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder access to medical marijuana for the first time. It would also make it easier for legal pot shops to operate by giving them access to banks.

The medical marijuana legislation stops short of legalizing pot for medicinal purposes, but would order the federal government to take a hands-off approach.

Federal authorities would not be allowed to arrest medical marijuana patients in states where it has been legalized.

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

This has been a constant source of friction between federal prosecutors and state governments that have conflicting marijuana policies. The legislation would ease the threat of federal prosecution in these states.

However, it would still be against the law to use medical marijuana in states that have not chosen to legalize it.

The Senate legislation is backed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending House Freedom Caucus votes to condemn Amash's impeachment comments Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran MORE (R-Ky.), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGOP faces new challenge in 2020 abortion fight 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (D-N.Y.).

Both bills point to growing bipartisan support for marijuana reform, advocates say.

“This is really one of the only issues where you see Republicans and Democrats working together without all the partisan bickering,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.

“Whereas many Democrats are concerned about the racial disparities in marijuana enforcement, the primary motivation on the right seem to be the extreme cost of enforcing these failed marijuana laws,” he added.