Last week a letter surfaced that was written in May from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Congress. The letter asked Congress to overturn the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The amendment prevents the Department of Justice from using federal money to enforce federal marijuana laws in states with medical marijuana.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate let it be known that they plan on introducing legislation to protect states from federal interference in their medical marijuana laws. The bipartisan senators who are the initial sponsors of the legislation include Republicans Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Democrats Al Franken (MN), Cory Booker (NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
The bill also expands the approved uses for medical marijuana, and eases restrictions on the research community. The Department of Veteran Affairs would be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. And, it removes cannabinoids (CBD), a treatment for chronic pain and severe epilepsy, from a list of controlled substances.
A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence supports the changes for medical marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain. States with medical marijuana experienced a decrease in hospital visits for complications due to prescription painkillers. The states with medical marijuana reported, on average, a 13% reduction in emergency room visits due to opioid overdose. And, hospitalizations for opioid abuse and dependence in medical marijuana states were approximately 23% lower than states without legal access.
“A majority of states now have comprehensive medical marijuana laws on the books, and a supermajority of Americans support letting patients access cannabis without fear of arrest,” Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller. “It’s well past time for Congress to modernize federal law so that people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and PTSD don’t have to worry about Jeff Sessions sending in the DEA to arrest them or their suppliers. The diverse group of lawmakers behind this new legislation shows that medical cannabis is an issue of compassion, not partisan politics.”