Cohen Praises General Assembly Passage of Cannabis Oil Proposal

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; April 14, 2015:

Congressman is leading federal bill with Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul to recognize medicinal marijuana nationwide

[WASHINGTON, DC] – With both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly voting unanimously last night to send a bill allowing for the medicinal use of a non-psychoactive cannabis oil known as cannabidiol (CBD) to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) called on the Governor to quickly sign the bill into law and provide Tennessee children suffering from epilepsy access to this safe, effective treatment.  Chloe Grauer, a Memphis 3-year-old Chloe Grauer who suffered from a rare neurological disorder that caused her dozens of seizures every day, passed away late last year after other treatment options failed and being unable to access CBD treatments.

“A 3-year-old Memphian, Chloe Grauer, suffered from debilitating seizures that could have been alleviated by CBD, but the treatment was denied to her because of out-of-touch state and federal drug laws,” said Congressman Cohen. “CBD does not contain enough THC to produce a high, and it has been shown to work for similar medical conditions. I applaud the Tennessee General Assembly’s bravery in unanimously passing this common-sense bill, and hope Governor Haslam signs it without delay to help children suffering like Chloe, who sadly passed away late last year, have access to this vital treatment.”

Chloe Grauer’s 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. Congressman Cohen also wrote to Governor Haslam multiple times last year urging action to increase access to CBD treatments for children like Chloe.

“Republicans and Democrats agree: federal law on medical marijuana is outdated, out of touch, and needs to change,” said Congressman Cohen.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.”

In addition to cosponsoring the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act, which would remove CBD from the federal definition of marijuana, Congressman Cohen is also spearheading a broad, bipartisan federal medical marijuana reform bill with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as well as Congressman Don Young (R-AK). Eight Republicans and eight 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 bill would also provide greater access to CBD for ailing patients.

In addition to Senators Booker, Paul and Gillibrand, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have cosponsored the CARERS Act, as have as Representatives Conyers (D-MI), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Nadler (D-NY), Amash (R-MI), Blumenauer (D-OR), Hunter (R-CA), Lofgren (D-CA), Hanna (R-NY), Beyer (D-VA), Heck (R-NV), and Norton (D-DC). Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana. Roughly a dozen additional states recognize a medical use for CBD, which is 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.

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.