Matt Gaetz developing bill to loosen federal restriction on medical marijuana research

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Matt Gaetz developing bill to loosen federal restriction on medical marijuana research

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Rep. Matt Gaetz explains his bill to loosen federal medical marijuana research instructions after holding a roundtable discussion with veterans on the issue at the University of West Florida on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Jim Little/jwlittle@pnj.com) Wochit

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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz meets with a group of local clergy members to discuss their concerns with medical marijuana during a roundtable meeting Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, at West Florida Baptist Church in Milton.(Photo: Tony Giberson/tgiberson@pnj.com)Buy Photo

Rep. Matt Gaetz is working on a bill to loosen federal restrictions on medical marijuana research and end the Department of Veterans Affairs’ long-standing “gag rule” on alerting veterans about medical marijuana research trials near them.

Gaetz held two roundtable discussions Monday morning in Milton and Pensacola and announced he was working on a bill with three points that he said would allow for more research into medical marijuana.

The first point of the proposal would call for at least three facilities in the country to grow marijuana for research rather than the one at the University of Mississippi currently allowed under federal law.

“To me, that’s like getting the government cheese of marijuana,” Gaetz said. “You’re not getting the different types of strains or concoctions or whatever — you know, I’m not a scientist — that can help people. You only get one type.”

The second point would allow universities to research marijuana for medical purposes without jeopardizing their federal funding.

More: Matt Gaetz wants to give veterans access to medical marijuana for PTSD

The final proposal of the bill would allow VA doctors to tell their patients about medical marijuana clinical trials for which they may be eligible to participate.

Gaetz, a freshman Republican, said he developed the three points after talking with other Republican lawmakers to figure what they would support.

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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz meets with a group of local clergy members to discuss their concerns with medical marijuana during a roundtable meeting Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, at West Florida Baptist Church in Milton. (Photo: Tony Giberson/tgiberson@pnj.com)

He said he couldn’t get other conservative lawmakers to agree to allowing VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.

“I had a lot of people in Washington — frankly, a lot of conservatives — who said that was a bridge too far for them,” Gaetz said. “My goal is let’s start with some of the things that we would agree on. So even among the most conservative, most skeptical people in Congress, people have said that (Gaetz’s bill) doesn’t offend them.”

Gaetz, who has been a proponent of medical marijuana since his time in the Florida Legislature, filed a bill last year that would remove marijuana from the Schedule I drug list. Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act are deemed to have no medical purpose.

Gaetz has also condemned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session for reversing an Obama-era policy of federal prosecutors not bringing cases against marijuana dispensaries operating


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