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Urbandale, IOWA - Today, patients, caregivers, and advocates held a press conference to kick off a signature drive for a petition addressed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asking him to give the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S.683) a vote in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the bipartisan CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis (marijuana) legislation introduced in Congressional history. The bill, which has been gaining momentum in the Senate with Judiciary Committee members Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Al Franken (D-MN) recently signing on as co-sponsors, has been stalled in the Committee since its introduction in 2015, with Chairman Grassley refusing to bring the bill up for a vote.
Iowa State Representative John Forbes hosted the event stating, "Iowans and people around the nation are urging Senator Grassley to allow a vote to come before the Judiciary Committee to give them and their loved ones access to cannabis medication that could have a positive impact on their quality of life. It’s time for Senator Grassley to allow this bill to move through the legislative process."
Beth Collins, Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs for ASA, was present at the event and noted, “Senator Grassley has always prided himself on representing the voice of his constituents and we are reminding him today that the overwhelming majority of Iowans and the nation support legal medical cannabis.”
Immediately following the press conference, supporters began a door-to-door campaign to gather signatures for the petition. A group of Grassley’s constituents plans to hand deliver the petition later this summer. Recent polls show 78% of Iowans support legalization of medical cannabis in addition to 9 out of 10 voters nationwide, including 82% of Republicans.
“It’s time for Senator Grassley to put his political agenda aside and carry out the will of the nation’s people,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA. “This is the only way to respect the 42 states that have laws recognizing medical use and the nearly 90% of voters who support it.”
The passage of the CARERS Act would allow state medical cannabis programs to continue without federal interference, move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II in the Controlled Substances Act, remove the cannabis-derived compound Cannabidiol (CBD) entirely from the schedule, create access to banking services for cannabis businesses in legal states, eliminate the DEA-mandated “NIDA-monopoly” that prevents researchers from obtaining cannabis for clinical studies, and allow Veterans Health Administration physicians to write recommendations in states that have established a medical cannabis program.