WASHINGTON – The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Trump enthusiast Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has sponsored bipartisan legislation that would require the federal government to research medical marijuana. The legislation would not legalize the drug but would provide safety for institutions conducting research on marijuana.
The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 was introduced by Rep. Timothy J. Walz (D-MN) and sponsored by Gaetz back in April. The bipartisan bill is also sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman and very conservative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
The proposal would also remove the drug from the Schedule I classification along with heroin and place it as a Schedule III drug along with codeine. The bill will require the U.S. Attorney General to oversee medical marijuana research and ensure that researchers have an adequate and consistent supply of high-grade medical marijuana available by conducting annual assessments.
The legislation also gives the Department of Veterans Affairs permission to conduct the research on medical marijuana as well as to recommend patients for participation in clinical trials. It would also require the government to have a minimum of three federally approved companies for medical marijuana.
Gaetz says that there is only one subpar approved study currently, and according to Walz and the American Legion, at least 92 percent of veterans want research conducted on medical marijuana. Marijuana has been a lifesaver for vets with PTSD and chronic pain, and many feel like they have been forced to break the law to buy medicine that is legal in other states.
Gaetz Says Government Lied About Marijuana for Generations
The Florida politician says that the federal government has told Americans fake news about marijuana for generations and has a moral obligation to research the drug to “unlock cures to improve quality of life for millions.” Gaetz has also said that cannabis reform is the future and that people like freedom, according to The Hill.
Gaetz was once a member of the state House of Representatives and helped the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 to become the law of the land and called the bill historic, adding that a Republican-controlled Congress has never advocated for marijuana reform before now.
The endorsement comes at a time when the Trump Administration has been wishy-washy on marijuana policy. While he was campaigning for the Presidency, Trump said that states should be allowed to decide marijuana policy locally, but his Attorney General has targeted state protections put in place by the Obama Administration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo in January of this year, angering politicians in legal marijuana states. The Cole Memo was a policy adopted by the Obama Administration that barred federal prosecutors from enforcing federal law on states with legalized marijuana.
Trump also claims to want to end the opioid epidemic, and evidence shows that medical marijuana could decrease opioid overdoses simply by decreasing the number of people on prescription opioid painkillers as well as serving as an exit drug from opioid addiction.
Gaetz appears to disagree with Sessions and enthusiastically gave his colleagues handouts detailing the legislation last month. Whether Gaetz has influence with Trump regarding federal marijuana policy remains to be seen.
Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), who signed onto the bill May 7, told Rolling Stone Magazine that the subject of marijuana is taboo and he hopes that once the official research is conducted, his colleagues will change their views, adding that Congress is out of touch with the majority of the public.
The bill now has 55 sponsors.
There are currently 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, and 9 states plus Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. At least 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization.