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Cohen Lauds Growing Bipartisan Support for Federal Medical Marijuana Legislation

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; March 31, 2015:

Bipartisan, bicameral CARERS Act is now cosponsored by 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats 

[MEMPHIS, TN] – Medical marijuana legislation led in the House by Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) and in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is gaining more and more bipartisan support. Six Republicans and six Democrats have now cosponsored the bipartisan, bicameralCompassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would let states set their own medical marijuana policies, recognize a legitimate medical use for marijuana at the federal level, and allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend safe and effective marijuana-related treatments. The CARERS Act would also increase access to a non-psychoactive treatment that might have helped save the life of 3-year-old Memphian Chloe Grauer, who suffered from hundreds of seizures each day before tragically passing away late last year.

“Republicans and Democrats agree: federal law on medical marijuana is outdated, out of touch, and needs to change,” said Congressman Cohen. “Ailing patients deserve compassion, not prosecution, especially when they live in states that have legalized medical marijuana.  I thank my colleagues for supporting this bill and I hope their brave stances cause more Members of Congress help us pass this common-sense bill to respect states’ rights.”

“We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose—recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows,” said Senator Booker. “The growing momentum and bipartisan support for the CARERS Act in both the Senate and House are a clear indication that together, we can and will make medical marijuana accessible to the millions of Americans who could benefit from it.”

In addition to lead sponsors Senator Booker and Congressman Cohen, the CARERS Act is cosponsored by Senators Paul (R-KY), Gillbrand (D-NY), Heller (R-NV), and Boxer (D-CA) as well as Representatives Young (R-AK), Conyers (D-MI), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Nadler (D-NY), Hunter (R-CA), Lofgren (D-CA), Hanna (R-NY) and Norton (D-DC). This bipartisan legislation, which builds upon previous House efforts, would not legalize medical marijuana in any state but it would cause the federal government to respect states’ rights to set their own medical marijuana policies and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states.

“I welcome the support H.R. 1538 has received in recent days and look forward to building a broader coalition for states’ rights on the issue of marijuana,” said Congressman Don Young. “As I’ve said before, my support for the CARERS Act and similar efforts in Congress has always been based upon a strong belief in the 10th Amendment and the principals of federalism.  The CARERS Act is just one step towards protecting states that have legalized marijuana, and would allow them to properly enforce their laws and business practices.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana. Roughly a dozen additional states recognize a medical use for cannabidiol (CBD), a therapeutic compound derived from marijuana that has virtually no THC, the drug’s psychoactive ingredient, but that families have used successfully to treat their children’s seizures.

Memphis 3-year-old Chloe Grauer suffered from a rare neurological disease that caused her to have 100 to 200 seizures daily. Her family tried dozens of options to treat her disease including medications and surgery, but nothing stopped the seizures. Her family also tried to treat her with CBD, but were unable to because of marijuana’s Schedule I classification—the same highly-restrictive classification as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Sadly, Chloe passed away late last year. Despite current federal limits on marijuana research and medical usage, there is mounting evidence that the drug is an effective and safe treatment for nausea, pain, anxiety, and other disorders including certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

If passed and signed into law, the CARERS Act would:

  • Allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs,
  • Reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, recognizing legitimate medical use
  • Allow for greater access to cannabidiol (CBD),
  • Allow access to banking services for marijuana-related businesses that are operating pursuant to state law,
  • Allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana, and
  • Cut red tape and expand opportunities for research on marijuana.

When the Controlled Substances Act first became law in 1970, Assistant Secretary of Health Roger Egeberg recommended that marijuana be placed on Schedule I temporarily until the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (known as the Shafer Commission) reported its findings on the drug. The Commission’s 1972 report recommended decriminalizing the drug, though that recommendation was never acted upon.

Cohen Co-sponsoring U.S. House Version of Paul/Booker Federal Medical Marijuana Legislation

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; March 24, 2015:

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would increase states’ rights to regulate marijuana and allow veterans and other patients to access safe, effective & state-legal treatments without risking federal prosecution

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Don Young (AK-AL) have introduced H.R. 1538, the bipartisan House companion to the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act that Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced in the Senate this month. The legislation would let states set their own medical marijuana policies, recognize a legitimate medical use for marijuana at the federal level, allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend safe and effective marijuana-related treatments, let states set their own medical marijuana policies, and increase access to a non-psychoactive treatment that could have helped save the life of 3-year-old Memphian Chloe Grauer, who suffered from hundreds of seizures each day before tragically passing away late last year.

“Drug policy reform is long overdue, but I am pleased that today it is an issue that unites both Democrats and Republicans,” said Congressman Cohen. “The science has been in for a long time, and keeping marijuana on Schedule I—with heroin and LSD—is ludicrous. I am pleased to join with Congressman Don Young in introducing this important bill to bring the federal government in line with the science and the American people, respect states’ rights, remove the threat of federal prosecution in states with medical marijuana, and help our citizens access the treatments they need.”

“The topic of medical and recreational marijuana has always been an issue of state’ rights for me, a position based upon a strong belief in the 10th Amendment and the principals of federalism established by our Founders,” said Congressman Don Young.“The CARERS Act aims to protect states that have legalized medical marijuana and allow them to properly enforce their own laws. My position aims to reaffirm the states’ rights to determine the nature of criminal activity within their own jurisdictions, which I believe is critical for states to effectively legislate within their borders.”

This bipartisan legislation, which builds upon previous House efforts, would not legalize medical marijuana in any state but it would cause the federal government to respect states’ rights to set their own medical marijuana policies and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana. Roughly a dozen additional states recognize a medical use for cannabidiol (CBD), a therapeutic compound derived from marijuana that has virtually no THC, the drug’s psychoactive ingredient, but that families have used successfully to treat their children’s seizures.

Memphis 3-year-old Chloe Grauer suffered from a rare neurological disease that caused her to have 100 to 200 seizures daily. Her family tried dozens of options to treat her disease including medications and surgery, but nothing stopped the seizures. Her family also tried to treat her with CBD, but were unable to because of marijuana’s Schedule I classification—the same highly-restrictive classification as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Sadly, Chloe passed away late last year. Despite current federal limits on marijuana research and medical usage, there is mounting evidence that the drug is an effective and safe treatment for nausea, pain, anxiety, and other disorders including certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

If passed and signed into law, the CARERS Act would:

  • Allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs,
  • Reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, recognizing legitimate medical use
  • Allow for greater access to cannabidiol (CBD),
  • Allow access to banking services for marijuana-related businesses that are operating pursuant to state law,
  • Allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana, and
  • Cut red tape and expand opportunities for research on marijuana.

When the Controlled Substances Act first became law in 1970, Assistant Secretary of Health Roger Egeberg recommended that marijuana be placed on Schedule I temporarily until the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (known as the Shafer Commission) reported its findings on the drug. The Commission’s 1972 report recommended decriminalizing the drug, though that recommendation was never acted upon.

TN House Votes to ‘Stand with Rand’ (and Babs)

The Tennessee House has passed a resolution in support of a joint proposal by U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to reinvest in the Highway Trust Fund “at no additional costs to taxpayers.”

Sponsored by Dresden Republican Andy Holt, HJR0094 encourages Congress to “Stand with Rand: Invest in Transportation.” It passed Wednesday on an 86-3 vote.

Paul and Boxer are pushing federal legislation to allow companies to voluntarily repatriate their earnings held in foreign banks at a tax rate of 6.5 percent, and funnel that revenue to the highway fund.  The adjusted tax rate would only apply to funds that are in excess of the company’s recent average repatriations, and only to money “earned in 2015 or earlier,” according to a press release. The companies would have five years to take advantage of the proposal.

Holt said Tennessee could see over $100 billion in transportation infrastructure revenue, should the legislation pass.

The possibility of raising the gas tax — both federally and at the state level — has been floated recently as ways to continue road improvements and shore up the trust fund.

Rep. Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson, D-Memphis, questioned if “Stand with Rand” was Sen. Paul’s campaign slogan. Holt replied that he wasn’t sure, but said the purpose of the resolution is to show support for the transportation funding action taken by the Kentucky senator at the federal level.

Parkinson voted against the measure, joined by fellow Democrats G.A. Hardaway of Memphis and Bo Mitchell of Nashville.

If no congressional action is taken, the Highway Trust Fund is projected to go insolvent by May 31.

Support for federal land transfer more partisan

The House passed another Holt-sponsored resolution as well Wednesday, but mostly without support from Democrats. That measure, House Joint Resolution 92, passed 64-25 with 3 abstentions.  It calls on the federal government to cede federally controlled public lands in the western United States back to the states in which they are situated.

The resolution declares that “limiting the ability of western states to access and utilize the public lands’ natural resources within their borders is having a negative impact upon the economy of those western states and therefore the economy of the entire United States.”

Three Republicans — Ryan Haynes and Eddie Smith of Knoxville, and Cameron Sexton of Crossville — joined the majority of Democrats to vote against the resolution. GOP Reps. Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain and Pat Marsh of Shelbyville, and Memphis Democrat Johnnie Turner, indicated they were present but not voting.

Livingston Rep. John Mark Windle was the only Democrat to vote yes on the resolution.

Holt explained that while the resolution calls on the federal government to transfer public lands to the states they occur within, it also requests the states return to the U.S. government any land designated as being a part of the National Park System, the National Wilderness system or belonging to the military.

Holt got pushback on the floor from Rep. Jason Powell, a Nashville Democrat, who said “we must protect America’s backyard, the American West.”

The House Democratic Caucus issued a press release following the House session condemning the resolution as a vote against hunters and others who enjoy outdoor recreation in the nation’s parks.

The South Carolina Assembly passed a similarly worded resolution in 2013.

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, since Utah passed legislation in 2012 calling for the transfer of public lands to the state, several other states have passed legislation along the same lines, including Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico.

Both the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Republican National Committee have issued “model resolutions” in support of the concept, but both are worded differently from Holt’s resolution.

Contact Alex Harris at alex@tnreport.com.

Corker Against Auditing the Fed

Bob Corker thinks an audit of the Federal Reserve would be disastrous both for the U.S. and “the free world.”

Tennessee’s junior senator, who sits on the Senate Banking committee, told attendees at a Bloomberg breakfast last week that he “can’t imagine anything worse for the nation or for the free world than for Congress to get involved in monetary policy.”

Nevertheless, Corker said he supports more transparency in how the Fed regulates banks.

Corker, who served as commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Finance and Administration in the Republican administration of former Gov. Don Sundquist, characterized “this audit the Fed thing” as an unwelcome invitation to more congressional involvement in monetary policy. He called that out as “a problem.”

All the same, Corker said he expects Congress to take some action on making financial regulations — such as how the Fed administers stress tests at large banks — more transparent.

In January, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie, both libertarian-leaning Republicans from Kentucky, introduced legislation calling for a congressional review of the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy discussions, which have been exempt from legislative scrutiny since 1978.

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2013 passed the GOP-controlled U.S. House last September with over 100 Democrats joining 227 Republicans in support of the bill, but it was never taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Audit proponents had hoped demands for hearings last year by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., regarding allegations the New York Fed was taking it easy on the banks it regulates, signaled broader support for a congressional audit. However, Warren recently announced her opposition to the audit proposed by Paul.

Carr Invokes Rand Paul in Debate Challenge to Lamar

Press release from the campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; June 30, 2014:

Nashville, TN – Just as then candidate-Rand Paul fought for debates against the establishment candidate in his 2010 primary, Tennessee State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr today challenged Senator Lamar Alexander to a series of debates.

“I challenge Lamar Alexander to debate before any impartial group,” said Carr. ”As Tennessee’s senior Senator, Lamar Alexander has voted to support amnesty, confirm President Obama’s hand-picked choice to implement ObamaCare and joined the President on his ‘War on Coal.’ Tennesseans deserve a full and robust debate so they can make the most informed decision on who truly represents their best interests.”

Sen. Alexander today is participating in an event with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who as a candidate in 2010, spoke out on the importance of debates saying “voters deserve a more serious discussion about the future of our country.”

“As a candidate for Senate, Rand Paul’s establishment opponent ducked, dodged and avoided debates – since they are together today, I wonder if Senator Paul still believes in the value and importance of debates and if he thinks that Lamar Alexander should commit to a series of debates throughout Tennessee,” added Carr.

Ramsey Issues Statement on Syria, Obama Tweet

Statement from the office of Tennessee Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey; September 12, 2013:

Lt. Governor Ramsey issued the following statement to media outlets requesting further comment on yesterday’s social media posts seen on Facebook and Twitter.

“Every September 11 since that tragic Tuesday in 2001 has been a day of remembrance. We remember those who died, those who served and those who carry on. But we must also remember those who attacked us and why. The Syrian rebels connections to Al-Qaeda are well-established and well-known. I am proud to stand with leaders like Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Rand Paul against coming to the aid of our enemies, enemies who continue to hate our country from afar as they kill Christians in their own country.”

Links of interest:

Lt. Governor Ramsey’s social media posts