Senator Chuck Grassley marijuana
Medical Marijuana Policy

Chuck Grassley Is Basically Killing The CARERS Act With Inactivity

Senator Chuck Grassley marijuana
(image via Wikipedia)

Back in March, three United States Senators introduced a bipartisan medical marijuana bill (Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) that would dramatically change the way the federal government approaches medical marijuana (CARERS Act). The legislation would effectively leave medical marijuana policy up to the states to decide. The bill had bipartisan support at the time it was introduced, and has since added on several more sponsors to the legislation.

Below is a summary of the CARERS Act, via Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

Today, a comprehensive bipartisan medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced to Congress that would prevent federal law enforcement agencies from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act would recognize marijuana’s medical validity by rescheduling it from Schedule I (no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse) into Schedule II (some medical value and high potential for abuse). This would allow banks greater freedom to provide financial services to state-legal medical dispensaries, improve transportability of the drug, and open doors for scientific research. Currently, medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and cultivators are still in violation of federal law, and could be subject to federal prosecution. This has remained an obstacle for many other states that would otherwise be considering similar policies.

“Whether patients have safe access to medicine is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a law enforcement group opposed to the war on drugs. “If this bill passes many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana will no longer have to forego treatment for fear of arrest, be considered criminals for obtaining necessary medication, or put themselves in danger by accessing a dangerous unregulated market. We would never put underground drug dealers in charge of selling chemotherapy drugs or antidepressants, and we shouldn’t be putting them in control of marijuana either.”

If passed, the CARERS Act would adjust banking regulations so that financial institutions could provide banking services to marijuana businesses operating in accordance with state law. This has been a major obstacle, forcing dispensaries to operate as cash-only businesses, creating serious logistical problems and opening them up to all sorts of security concerns.

The bill would also remove a requirement that the Department of Health and Human Services do a public health service review before approving studies and end the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s current monopoly on marijuana research by allowing for at least three more research licenses to be granted. Overwhelming anecdotal evidence – and what little domestic research that has been approved – clearly support the medical efficacy of marijuana, but because research is rarely permitted for Schedule I substances, the scientific community has been unable to fully and accurately assess its effectiveness for specific conditions in controlled settings. If passed, the bill would also permit VA doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients who often suffer from combat related depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The State of Colorado recently awarded $2 million dollars to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies for research into the effects of marijuana use on veterans with PTSD.

Finally, it would allow states to import CBD products, which contain a powerful compound found in marijuana that reduces the incidence and severity of seizures in epileptic patients. Twelve states currently have laws allowing for some form of access to CBD, though these laws are not generally considered full “medical marijuana laws” because CBD as an extracted substance has fewer applications than medications using the whole plant. They remain attractive to some policymakers, however, because they exclude THC, a psychoactive but medically useful cannabinoid.

Last year, President Obama signed into law the federal “Cromnibus” spending bill, which includes a provision that prevents the Department of Justice from using its money to create barriers for medical marijuana laws and legally operating dispensaries in those states where it is legal. In addition to the dozen states that allow CBD use, twenty three states and the District of Columbia allow some degree of medical marijuana access, and many more state legislatures are considering such measures as well.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending more than a trillion dollars diverting the penal system’s attention away from more important violent crimes.

Passing this legislation is a no-brainer right? Well, apparently not according to the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley. Chuck Grassley has to schedule a hearing in order for this legislation to get any movement, and all Senator Grassley has to do to effectively kill this bill is do nothing at all, unfortunately. There doesn’t appear to be a hearing coming down the pipeline, which makes this worthwhile legislation dead on arrival, which is extremely sad. Medical marijuana policy should be decided on logic, compassion, and science, and not via one person’s views. A person who is not qualified to speak on medical matters I will add.

Below is Senator Chuck Grassley’s contact information. Let him know what you think:

Des Moines Office
721 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-288-1145
Fax: 515-288-5097

Washington D.C. Office
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-3744
Fax: 202-224-6020

  • moldy

    Consider that Chuck is an IA farmer (or retired farmer) and has continually spewed reefer madness his whole life. He’s been in that seat for as long as I can remember, in fact way too long. Idiots in IA keep voting for him since most of them are farmers or can’t think for themselves. That’s one other reason I moved away from that backwards hellhole. IOWA = Idiots Out Wondering Around.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      I doubt they are idiots on the subject of medicinal cannabis. They are probably overwhelmingly in support of it, like everyone else and vote for Chuckie in spite of his views on it, not because of them.
      Old Chuck is not rational on the subject of cannabis. I won’t be investing any time in changing his pig mind. Maybe someone he does care about will need MMJ, he couldn’t care less what happens to the rest of us.

      • Ron

        Or maybe he will need mmj himself.

        • saynotohypocrisy

          That would be poetic justice

      • moldy

        No, I meant the general populous that keeps voting for him, not reformers. It’s a backward state, I lived there. Grassley was elected to state gov. in 1975, when I still had hair, and has been against any form of legalization since. Hell, he wants to increase penalties. He still holds the view that once you get hooked on weed you’re moving on up to smack. If you live in IA yeah, you’ll keep voting for him since he’s a farmer and he can’t do wrong.

        • saynotohypocrisy

          But on medicinal marijuana, most people are reformers. It’s just not important enough of an issue to many of them to outweigh their overall Republican tilt.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    How can cannabis be schedule 1, when alcohol and tobacco aren’t scheduled at all? Where are the courts? There was plenty of evidence that marijuana is medicine when the courts ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence, but there’s a lot more studies available now. Shouldn’t it be brought before the courts again? Maybe the courts will be ready to sober up this time, instead of being lackeys of the war on users of the ‘wrong’ drugs and their families.

    • toy

      Have you ever heard of tricky pricky dicky nixon??????????

      • saynotohypocrisy

        Yes, but I didn’t mean the historical background, I’m focused on the here and now, and the idea that cannabis is not medicine which was always insane, is getting more and more insane by the week, as the magnitude of the suffering it is causing becomes more and more clear. The courts need to fix this since the President and Congress are too busy playing fascist pig to do their job.

        • nba

          It all started with Henry Angslinger

  • Stel-1776

    Cannabis should not be scheduled at all, let alone be in Schedule I.

    It is absurd that the Federal Government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance along with Heroin. It is classified in a more dangerous category than Cocaine, Morphine, Opium and Meth. The three required criteria for Schedule I classification are:

    “1) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.”

    The dependence rate of cannabis is the lowest of common legal drugs including tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and many prescription drugs. More important, cannabis does not cause the kind of dependence that we typically associate with the term, like that of alcohol or heroin. It is more similar to that of caffeine, with less symptoms. Cannabis dependence, in the very few who develop it, is relatively mild, and usually not a significant issue or something that requires treatment, unless of course it is court ordered. [Catherine et al. 2011; Lopez-Quintero et al. 2011; Joy et al. 1999; Anthony et al. 1994;]

    “2) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

    Cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years. Despite great difficulty in conducting medical cannabis research, the medicinal efficacy of cannabis is supported by the highest quality evidence. [Hill. 2015] Already 76% of doctors accept using cannabis to treat medical conditions even though it is still illegal in most places. [Adler and Colbert. 2013]. Cannabis is able to treat a wide range of disease, including mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few. Cannabis is able to do this partially through its action on the newly discovered (thanks to cannabis) endocannabinoid system and the receptors CB1 and CB2 which are found throughout the body. [Pacher et al. 2006; Pamplona 2012; Grotenhermen & Müller-Vahl 2012].

    “3) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”

    On September 6, 1988, after two years of hearings on cannabis rescheduling, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that:

    Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man…. Marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

    Relatively speaking cannabis is a safe drug [Iversen L. 2005]. The evidence is is clear, cannabis does not belong in Schedule I [Grant et al. 2012]. It does not meet any one of the three required criteria.

    Please help bring end to this senseless prohibition. The organizations below fight every day to bring us sensible cannabis policies. Help them fight by joining their mailing lists, signing their petitions and writing your legislators when they call for it:

    MPP – The Marijuana Policy Projecthttp://www.mpp.Org/
    DPA – Drug Policy Alliancehttp://www.drugpolicy.Org/
    NORML – National Organization to Reform Marijuana Lawshttp://norml.Org/
    LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibitionhttp://www.leap.Cc/

    SOURCES:

    –Adler and Colbert. Medicinal Use of Marijuana — Polling Results. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013.
    –Anthony et al. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 1994.
    –Catherine et al. Evaluating Dependence Criteria for Caffeine. J Caffeine Res. 2011.
    –Grant et al. Medical marijuana: clearing away the smoke. Open Neurol J. 2012.
    –Grotenhermen F, Müller-Vahl K. The therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2012. Review.
    –Hill K. Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems. A Clinical Review. JAMA. 2015. Review.
    –Iversen L. Long-term effects of exposure to cannabis. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2005. Review.
    –Joy et al. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Institute of Medicine. 1999.
    –Lopez-Quintero et al. Probability and predictors of transition from first use to dependence on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011.
    –Pacher et al. The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006. Review.
    –Pamplona FA, Takahashi RN. Psychopharmacology of the endocannabinoids: far beyond anandamide. J Psychopharmacol. 2012. Review.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      Excellent post, thank you for pulling it all together. Should be required reading for prohibs.

  • stellarvoyager

    This is what happens when progressives stay home and give the GOP a majority. You get anti-cannabis zealots like Grassley, Andy Harris and John Fleming in charge of important committees, and thus gumming up the works. Sure, the democrats have their share of anti-cannabis zealots, but their share of the overall democratic party vote is far less than that of the GOP.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      There’s an added complication in the case of Doc Harris, my Congress critter. He’s the only Republican in the Maryland delegation, and he benefits from gerrymandering. The Democrat controlled legislature threw as many Republicans as possible into his district, so that they could knock off another Republican Congress critter.
      2 Republicans who are sympathetic to cannabis are running against him in the primary next year, which is one too many.

  • SilentPatriot

    The irony of his last name…

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      …reminds me of that goofy bumper sticker, “Ass, grass or cash. No rides for free.”

  • Jetdoc

    We knew this was going to happen. In March, myself and about 25 other Veterans along with Dr. Sue Sisley, were on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress for the CARERS Act! We were able to meet with most EVERY Senator on the Judiciary Committee. The one that refused to see us was Grassley! He told us that day that as long as he was Chairman, this wouldn’t even get a Committee hearing.

    It was purported that even though Jeff Flake opposed the bill, he was going to force Grassley to at least give it a hearing. Flake had since backed off of that position.

    We knew that he (Grassley) would do this and that’s why the Veterans Equal Access Amendment was passed about 2 weeks ago. We’re going to get it through, even if we have to do it piece-meal. We’re introducing the CARERS Act piece-meal SO that we can get AROUND the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Veterans in Medical Marijuana States now have the right to use Medical marijuana WITHOUT fear of recourse by the VA. We can now, at least talk about medical marijuana with our VA Dr’s, if we live in States in which Medical marijuana is legal.

    At least for the next year!

  • Closet Warrior

    Isn’t it sad that while these political swingin dicks are too busy in their pissing contests to generate money and gain greater status while all these children die, veterans are in physical and mental anguish and all other licensed mmj patients have to medicate in fear. It pisses me off. I am almost ready to move to Canada if the U.S. can’t get their shit together in the next couple years. It’s friendly, super-clean and open minded about change.Refreshing and FREE healthcare!!! They are going so far as to working on a bill that not only protects the patient but even gets their mmj to them free or very cheap depending on income, health, etc. It’s getting pretty bad when ppl are jumpin ship from the U.S. to different countries. We need a REVELATION or a REVOLUTION!!!!

  • JohnS

    Grassley is an ancient geezer who will be dead very soon.

    • The truth

      He’s running for re-election in 2016 at age 82. Phucking ridiculous!! Please Iowa… Retire this old asshole so progress can take hold. So sick of these career politicians on both side locking up progress.

  • Slickrock

    If the Democrats regain control ol the US Senate next year, Senator Grassley will no longer control the judiciary committee. Then in 2017 a new Democratic chairman can at least give the CARERS act a fair hearing. If the judiciary committee approves the bill, it moves onto the full Senate for a vote, assuming that prohibitionist GOP senators like Chuck Grassley don’t filibuster the act. That’s the modern GOP- your time machine back to the early 20th century. The most regressive, authoritarian political party ever!

    • Denny

      Get your facts straight, they control it now and have since the day obama took office, so none of them should be getting a free pass on this issue.

      • saynotohypocrisy

        Democrats control the Senate? On what planet? They don’t deserve a free pass, that much is true.

        • Robert Dudley

          And you wonder why this country is in such a mess… Seven years in, and a surprising number of people still can’t name the Vice President. At least they got some free cell phones out of the deal.

    • Traci Ford

      It’s amazing how ppl don’t read what others comment before commenting erroneously. “IF the Democrats REGAIN control”…of course they don’t have control now or Congress would actually be creating policies that help EVERYONE…you know…the work that they’re SUPPOSED to do instead of wasting time trying to overturn legislation designed to do just that.

  • Lawrence Goodwin

    Thanks for the update, Johnny Green, and for sharing this obstruction’s contact information. By all means, inundate the senator’s offices with phone calls, old-fashioned ink-on-paper letters and emails, from now until he relents. The basic happiness of millions of Americans who suffer and die without safe and legal access to medical cannabis; and the fates of millions more who could be engaging in perfectly legal American cannabis commerce, are literally at stake. The time for talking and “piece-meal” federal progress is over. Let’s start joining together in groups to surrender a thousand cups of our urine to the offices of Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and every single cannabis naysayer in the U.S. Congress–after proper arrangements are made, of course, with their staff members. The large, well-designed placards could say: “Yes, we are proud to have THC in our bodies. We are healthy and happy, and we vote.” Demand the immediate restoration of cannabis growing for all commercial purposes. Cannabis is as American as delicious apple pie during the holidays!