California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, the legislator whose senior aide was arrested for marijuana possession a few years ago, has signed the ground-breaking medical marijuana bill in the Senate.
“Senator Boxer is a strong supporter of California’s medical marijuana law and she believes that patients, doctors and caregivers in states like California should be able to follow state law without fear of federal prosecution,” Boxer spokesman Zachary Coile told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, the bill now claims three Democrats and two Republicans. GOP Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined on as co-sponsors in the beginning, followed shortly by GOP Sen. Dean Heller from Nevada. (RELATED: Senators Unveil Bill To Legalize Federal Medical Marijuana)
At the time when the bill was released, there was a certain level of disappointment that Boxer decided to “sit this one out.” But now, Boxer has decided to add steam to the bill by quickly signing her name as a co-sponsor.
Boxer stated in January that she does not intend to run for re-election, and in February, California Attorney General Kamala Harris put her name forward for the 2016 Senate race. The first issue Harris decided to address in great detail since announcing her decision was the legalization of marijuana. “I don’t have any moral opposition to legalization,” Harris said, further calling legalization an inevitability.
It is unclear whether Harris’ bold statements prompted Boxer to co-sponsor the medical marijuana bill. Introduced on March 10, the bill most notably reschedules marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which effectively admits that marijuana has medicinal value.
Veterans would be allowed access to medical marijuana in states that have pre-existing programs. The bill would also formally prevent federal authorities from interfering with medical marijuana operations, a problem that has periodically plagued states. This is the first medical marijuana bill to enter the Senate, and all eyes are watching developments unfold.
“Sen. Boxer represents the state that led the way on medical marijuana, and it’s about time she took some action to defend the will of California’s voters from federal interference,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told TheDCNF. “We would have expected her to do something on this years ago, but better late than never. A new generation of senators like Cory Booker, Rand Paul and Kirsten Gillibrand are leading the way on this issue, and it’s nice to see that even some lawmakers who have been around for a while are starting to notice which way the political winds are blowing. This is a sign that the dam is about to break. Expect more old-school politicians to get on board soon.”
Four states have legalized marijuana, and 23 other states have some form of medical marijuana program.
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