WASHINGTON – Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has made a reputation for his avid support for President Donald Trump, who often calls the freshman Republican after cable TV hits. But Gaetz is also at the front of a push on medical marijuana.
"A lot of people think we can't pass cannabis reform in a GOP controlled congress," Gaetz, a former state House member, 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."
This afternoon, Gaetz will host an event on Capitol Hill aimed at freeing up government research of marijuana and a number of experts are scheduled to testify. (Live stream here beginning at 1:30 p.m.)
Last month, Gaetz introduced the bipartisan Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018. All federally approved studies of medical marijuana come from one source, and "it is extremely subpar," according to a release from Gaetz, and there's a limited supply.
The legislation would require the Attorney General "to annually assess whether there is an adequate and uninterrupted supply of research-grade cannabis and be sure that there are at least three federally approved manufacturers at any given time." It also calls for a "safe harbor" for researchers and institutions to study the drug and for patients to use in clinical trials.
The legislation does not change federal or state laws on marijuana, which continue to evolve.
"The federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about the medical properties of cannabis," Gaetz told the Times. "We have a moral obligation to democratize access to research so that innovators can unlock cures to improve quality of life for millions."