Calling Florida Rep. Matthew Gaetz an avid Trump supporter is practically an understatement. Gaetz was among the 18 Republican congressman who nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize in March, and the Republican freshman often receives a phone call from Trump following a cable news TV hit. As GQ labeled him last month, he is “the Trumpiest congressman in Trump’s Washington.”
Almost at odds with the President and his Cabinet’s policies, however, is Gaetz’s dogmatic and vocal activism toward cannabis. Just this past weekend Gaetz attended the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association’s conference in Miami to explain the current workings of cannabis legislation and how doctors can positively impact its legalization. Make no doubt about it, Gaetz is at the forefront of a national marijuana campaign.
“A lot of people think we can’t pass cannabis reform in a GOP controlled congress,” the former House member in the state of Florida, told the Tampa Bay Times. “It reminds me of when Governor Scott sent his Surgeon General to testify against my Florida legislation—and then took credit for it when debating Charlie Crist. This issue is moving fast. It turns out people like freedom.”
Just this past month Gaetz introduced the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, which aims to liberate federal restriction and resources toward studying marijuana. Currently scientists only have one source of marijuana for clinical research in the United States—the University of Mississippi marijuana research center. But as Gaetz bemoans in his announcement of the bill, that cannabis given to scientists is “subpar,” “weak and often moldy,” as Dr. Sue Sisley and her colleagues learned firsthand when they had the cannabis independently analyzed by a laboratory.
As interest in cannabis research has risen in the scientifically community in recent years, in conjunction with legalization trends, the 12-acre farm in Mississippi can’t keep up. “[F]ederally-grown cannabis is scarce; not enough is grown,” Gaetz attests.
The congressman’s proposed bill also places a somewhat direct jab at Attorney General and noted marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions, whom Gaetz prods and provokes at every opportunity. The potential legislation would “require the Attorney General to annually assess whether there is an adequate and uninterrupted supply of research-grade cannabis, and to ensure that there are at least three federally approved manufacturers at any given time.”
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The legislation would not affect federal or state laws on cannabis, though. But this bill could provide an opportunity for politicians to attain scientific ammunition when it comes to future marijuana legalization efforts.
“The federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about the medical properties of cannabis,” Gaetz told TBT. “We have a moral obligation to democratize access to research so that innovators can unlock cures to improve quality of life for millions.”