U.S. Congressman is Seeking to Shield Marijuana Research from Feds

Matt Gaetz Medical Marijuana

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz says that “no one should be afraid to do research on medical cannabis.” 

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has come up with a proposal that would stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting medical marijuana researchers.

“No one should be afraid to do research on medical cannabis,” Gaetz told the Cannabist.

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The proposal by Gaetz is a budget appropriations amendment similar to Rohrabacher-Blumenaeur (previously known as Rohrabacher-Farr) which defunds the DOJ from using any resources to pursue state legal medical marijuana businesses. Rohrabacher-Blumenauer is seen by many as the best protection medical marijuana business owners have from federal intervention.  If the bill by Gaetz, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, is passed, researchers would also receive the same protections that business owners have.

Below is text from the Gaetz proposal:

None of the funds made available under this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent or delay the approval of an application, which complies with all applicable requirements, submitted to the Attorney General to possess, distribute, or manufacture a schedule I controlled substance, including marihuana, for the purposes of conducting research, for a substance that is legal for medicinal use pursuant to State law in Alabama, Alaska…

Gaetz knows that the DOJ is not likely to throw their support behind his initiative.

“I don’t think anybody’s waving pompoms for cannabis research over at Justice,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz has a history of supporting medical marijuana reform. In Florida, as a state representative, Gaetz was vocal about legalizing medical marijuana. In April, he introduced federal legislation that sought to shift marijuana from a Schedule I narcotic to a Schedule III.

As the healthcare debate continues to rage on and expensive medications become out of reach for many, research into medical marijuana may be needed more than ever. But it’s hard to ask people to risk federal prosecution to analyze the potential of medical marijuana.

“Today’s universities are concerned that cannabis research would impair hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants they receive,” he said. “So I figure, if people are legally using cannabis under state law, and over half the states of the country (have medical cannabis laws), maybe we shouldn’t scare people out of researching outcomes.”

Unfortunately, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer and the Consolidated Appropriations Act have to be approved with each congressional budget. With a looming political fight over raising the debt ceiling, distributing Hurricane Harvey aid, and the overall volatility in Washington D.C., medical marijuana protections are far from a guarantee.

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