NEWS AND OPINION:
It has been described as “sweeping bipartisan legislation,” and here it is: Sens. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, plus Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York took the “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act” to the Senate on Tuesday. The legislation would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, allowing patients, physicians and retailers to participate in associated programs “without fear of prosecution.”
The three lawmakers would like substance to be classified according to Schedule II - that makes it acceptable for medical use, enabling states with existing medical-marijuana laws to maintain them without federal legal issues cropping up.
“Across the country, state lawmakers have already recognized what medical research is showing us,” Ms. Gillibrand said during the press conference. “Cannabis can treat a variety of illnesses, from MS, to cancer, to epilepsy, to seizures.”
Advocacy groups are poised as a complicated situation unfolds with the “Carers” act.
“It’s interesting that just about every major GOP candidate for president has said she or he thinks states should be able to determine their own marijuana laws. Of course, most of them have only talked about it because they know it’s politically popular to say that. Sen. Paul is actually doing something about it because he believes it,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, tells Inside the Beltway.
He points out that other marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House, adding, “There is no rational reason to maintain laws that prevent doctors from recommending medical marijuana, prohibit seriously ill people from using it, and punishing those who provide it to them.”
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Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for medicinal purposes. Meanwhile, it could be a long haul, but the advocates are ready.
“Almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical use; it’s long past time to end the federal ban,” observes Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, who anticipates that the bill would protect patients, families, a caregivers and dispensary owners.
THE CRONKITE EFFECT
Viewers appear wary of TV news: Almost half of American voters — 48 percent — say network TV news is “less trustworthy than in the days of Walter Cronkite,” according to a new poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University. More than half of Republicans — 56 percent — agree with this assessment, along with 52 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats. Another 35 percent overall say TV news is about as trustworthy as it was back in the days of when somber anchormen read news without much embellishment. Twenty eight percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats agree.
“American news watchers long for an era where the person in the big chair could be truly trusted,” says assistant poll director Tim Malloy, adding Mr. Cronkite’s signature sign off phrase, “And that’s the way it is.”
Meanwhile, the competitive news marketplace has a clear winner in the poll: FOX News offers the most trusted network and cable news coverage, say 29 percent of the respondents. FOX is definitely the Republican choice, cited by 58 percent of GOP voters — and only 3 percent of Democrats. Overall, CNN garnered 22 percent of the vote, followed by NBC News and CBS News at 10 percent each; ABC News earned 8 percent and MSNBC 7 percent.
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THE BARING OF TEETH
Political theater is frequent among Democrats these days. Powerline.com columnist Steven Hayward is chronicling what he deems “Civil War on the Left,” a series that tracks the less than harmonious moments between establishment types and progressives within the Party. “In an earlier installment of this series, I mentioned how the identity politics mandate of the Democratic Party was causing friction in California, where Hispanics were loudly complaining against the presumptive anointment of Kamala Harris to be the successor of Barbara Boxer,” Mr. Hayward writes.
“Looks like the same fight is shaping up in Maryland, where the Democratic Party establishment’s attempt to clear the field for Rep. Chris Van Hollen to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski is provoking resentment from black Democrats, who think it ought to be their turn,” he says, citing the possible candidacy of Rep. Donna Edwards to replace Ms. Mikulski.
“As I say, stock up on popcorn,” Mr. Hayward advises.
LET’S BE FRANK
His fictional presidential character Frank Underwood is a fixture on Netflix. Now, actor Kevin Spacey takes his political perspectives to CNN where he’ll produce what the network calls “a thrilling, six-part mini docu-series history telling at its most compelling.” Hm-m-m. The programming will be narrated by Mr. Spacey and include previously unseen archive footage, interviews and dramatic recreations. It is, CNN declares, “the story of a four-year, no-holds-barred battle to become the most powerful person in the world, culminating in a single night of heart pounding tension.” Among the highlights: powerful campaign speeches, plus “dirty tricks and Machiavellian schemes,” the network stated. Sounds Underwood-ian.
Mr. Spacey will be joined by co-producer Dana Brunetti and Trigger Street Productions — both involved in the making of “House of Cards,” the Netflix series that is home to Frank Underwood, plus a cast of politicos and journalists that has gained a worldwide following. Also in the creative mix: Raw, a film and TV production company which has worked for the BBC, Discovery Channel and A&E, and other networks.
“‘Race for the White House’ will be the perfect complement to our coverage of the 2016 campaigns and election,” says Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.
MORE HILLARY POLL NUMBERS ARRIVE
A new Rasmussen Reports poll of likely voters finds that half — 49 percent — of likely U.S. voters “believe Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private, non-government e-mail provider for issues at the highest levels of the U.S. government raises serious national security concerns.” Another 39 percent believe Mrs. Clinton “deliberately used the private e-mail account to hide things from government oversight,” the survey says. Thirty percent don’t agree while 31 percent are undecided.
The pollster also says that 57 percent of the respondents are concerned about the potential for conflict of interest raised by the failure of the private Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation to get government approval for some large donations it received from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State. There is the predictable partisan divide: Sixty-six percent of Republicans think Mrs. Clinton was trying to hide her e-mails from oversight; 20 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of unaffiliated voters agree. The survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted March 4-5.
POLL DU JOUR
• 51 percent of U.S. voters have not heard Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s reporting has been challenged; 56 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.
• 23 percent overall say Mr. O’Reilly should remain on the air; 30 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats agree.
• 12 percent say Mr. O’Reilly should be “fired”; 4 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.
• 11 percent say he should be “suspended”; 8 percent of Republicans, 9 percent of independents and 18 percent of Democrats agree.
• 42 percent say NBC News should allow Brian Williams to return as anchorman; 33 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats agree.
• 35 percent overall say he should not be allowed to return; 42 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 28 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Quinnipiac University National Poll of 1,286 registered U.S. voters conducted Feb. 26-March 2 and released Monday.
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