Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced in Congress

Last week, Senators Cory Booker, Kristen Gillibrand, and Rand Paul introduced S.683, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS Act).

The bill text is not yet available on Thomas.Gov, but a summary of the key provisions can be found here.

In short, S.683 would decriminalize medical marijuana at the federal level, but only for those states that have authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.  It also creates a safe harbor for banks to be able to serve certain growers, dispensaries, and manufacturers, and would authorize the Veterans’ Administration to prescribe marijuana to its patients in those states.

Since the bill text is not available yet, it isn’t clear whether and how the proposed legislation addresses Indian country.  It would seem that including tribes within the scope of this legislation would be consistent with the Department of Justice’s 2014 memorandum on the enforcement of marijuana laws in Indian country, and may provide some measure of certainty for tribes that are seeking to decriminalize marijuana.

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