A new bill will be unveiled Tuesday aiming to protect patients in states where medical marijuana has been legalized, but not affecting states where pot is still banned, reports say.
The historic legislation from Sens. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, would end the federal ban on medical marijuana, The Washington Post notes.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act would "allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution," according to a joint statement, The Post reports.
The bill will also "make overdue reforms to ensure patients – including veterans receiving care from VA facilities in states with medical marijuana programs – access the care they need."
Advocates hailed the measure.
"This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
"It’s long past time to end the federal ban," added Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, also in a statement, The Post reports.
In recent years, several national polls have found majority support for legalizing marijuana. Differences are typically highly split by age
— the young tend to disproportionately support such policies.
Medical marijuana has been approved to varying degrees in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
The new bill highlights a paradox between state and federal laws: Medical marijuana is still on the federal government’s list of banned substances, despite dozens of states around the country legalizing it, The Hill notes.
Last year, Congress adopted a policy in the appropriations bill saying it would not fund federal enforcement against medical marijuana patients, The Hill reports.
But the new bill is the first full legislative attempt at the federal level to allow medical marijuana in some states, according to The Hill.
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