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 YoungHouse passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz 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 PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (R-Ky.), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan 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.