Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana Introduced in the House

A bipartisan effort to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level is now underway in both Houses of Congress, and its sponsors acknowledge they face an uphill climb to passage – but they believe the public is on their side.

“Polls show that at least 86 percent of Americans say medical marijuana should be available,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, in an interview with CBS News. “Legislators rarely lead, they generally follow. I guess it’s called cultural lag…Eventually, people in Congress start catching up.”

Cohen and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, unveiled a bill on Tuesday that would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II narcotic, recognizing some appropriate medical uses for the drug. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia, but the federal government currently classifies pot as a Schedule I narcotic with no apparent medical utility.

The reclassification would have a variety of effects on how the federal government enforces marijuana laws. It would allow states to set their own medical marijuana statutes free of federal interference, allow medical marijuana dispensaries to access the banking system, and allow doctors at government agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana in states where it’s permitted. It could also jumpstart research into the drug’s medical uses.

– Read the entire article at CBS News.