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Senators Cory Booker and Kirstin Gillibrand testified as guest witnesses at Wednesday's hearing<br>[Mark Wilson / Slate]
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Senators Cory Booker and Kirstin Gillibrand testified as guest witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing
[Mark Wilson / Slate]

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on Wednesday afternoon held a hearing entitled, “Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana.” Senators heard from witnesses from the FDA, NIDA, as well as medical professionals who will discuss the pros and cons of medical marijuana.

Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) also testified as guest witnesses.

“Patients and providers following state law should not have to live in fear of federal prosecution,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “This hearing today will hopefully spur Senators to take action to end the futile federal prohibition on medical marijuana.”

Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance: "Quote"
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Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance:
“Patients and providers following state law should not have to live in fear of federal prosecution”

The hearing has been organized by Subcommittee Chair Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a cosponsor of the CARERS Act. The legislation’s key component would allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies.

“The medical community and the American public have been aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis for decades,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Sadly, however, the federal government has yet to engage in any meaningful research on medical cannabis.

“The DEA has put up bureaucratic roadblocks to legitimate science and has severely limited, if not completely obstructed, legitimate researchers who would study cannabis’ benefits,” Smith said. “The result? Americans are denied the opportunity to see the results of FDA-approved, double-blind studies demonstrating the benefits of medical marijuana, while elected officials erroneously point to the lack of these studies as evidence of a lack of therapeutic benefits.”

Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association: "Quote"
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Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association:
“The DEA has put up bureaucratic roadblocks to legitimate science and has severely limited, if not completely obstructed, legitimate researchers who would study cannabis’ benefits”

Already this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed four amendments that seek to reconcile the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws in favor of the states. Booker and Gillibrand are the lead cosponsors of the CARERS Act and are expected to testify in strong support of their bill, which currently has nineteen cosponsors.

Advocates have long called upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to move the bill, so this hearing is viewed as an important step forward.

Currently, 25 states have medical marijuana laws, and an additional 17 have CBD laws. Graham’s hearing on the subject has been viewed as a more even-handed approach than other hearings.

In April, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was slammed in the media for holding a “sham” hearing on marijuana legalization that included only witnesses with a record of opposing marijuana reform.

 

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