U.S. Senate panel to hold hearing on medical marijuana

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The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will hold an unexpected – and perhaps first-ever – hearing on the potential medical benefits and risks of marijuana use Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism will hold the hearing, which is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. A live video stream of the hearing will be available at the committee’s website.

While numerous cannabis-related reform bills have been introduced by members of Congress over the years, most have died quietly, having never gained so much as a single committee hearing. This could signal the end to that era.

In a press release, the Marijuana Policy Project applauded the Senate panel’s move to at least consider testimony by medical marijuana supporters, such as Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey, the co-sponsors of the bipartisan CARERS Act, which would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.

Also slated to testify are officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration, along with other experts.

“If a licensed physician examines a patient and believes marijuana would be a safe and effective treatment option, he or she should be able to recommend it to that patient without fear of crossing the federal government,” Don Murphy, director of outreach for MPP, said in the release.