President Obama extended a federal “Ceasefire” in the 20-year war on state medical cannabis programs on Friday evening when he signed the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations bill.

The bill contains the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment which prohibits the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws. In many respects, 2015 was a record year for medical cannabis policy. More than four out of five Americans support legal access to medical cannabis, with only 13% opposed. To date, forty states have passed laws that allow the medical use of cannabis in some form.

Lawmakers can now rely on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s CannabisMonograph, which provides standards for the plant’s identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties; and the American Herbal Products AssociationRecommendations for Regulators, which covers distribution, cultivation,analytics, and manufacturing, packaging and labeling to create programs that provide safe products for patients.

Since implementing safe and legal access to medical cannabis, those states have seen unexpected benefits, such as significant drops in opioid overdoses.

Every federal agency except the Drug Enforcement Administration, has stopped ignoring medical cannabis. The Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, and the Department ofVeteran’s Affairs have each issued internal memos providing guidance on medical cannabis policies.

Research barriers are beginning to fall, with the Office of National Drug ControlPolicy lifting the Public Health Service review, a hurdle only cannabis researchers had to clear. NIDA head Nora Volkow indicating she now supports letting other research centers grow research cannabis, ending the NIDA monopoly.

Congressional support for medical cannabis has never been stronger. Even long-time opponents of medical cannabis such as Senators Charles Grassley and Diane Feinstein now say it’s time we get serious about researching medical cannabis.

CARERS is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress and would remedy the state-federal conflict over medical cannabis law.

The CARERS Act should pass because it would open a floodgate to life-changing medical research, save taxpayers money being wasted targeting state-legal patients such as Larry Harvey, and allow more states to move forward with medical cannabis programs that can help millions of Americans.

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