The newest attempt by Congress to reschedule marijuana is a risky gambit. Where most bills on the topic have suggested moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II on the list of federally controlled substances, a new bipartisan would make like a cheat code and skip a level straight to Schedule III.
Schedule III controlled substances are a fun grab bag of drugs that the feds couldn’t figure out where else to put. It includes heavily abusable drugs such as codeine and ketamine, in addition to somewhat less notorious drugs like Tylenol.
The measure that would move cannabis into this no-man’s-land is bipartisan, being co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, both of Florida.
Gaetz might be the one to watch out of the two. The fact that he’s a Republican champion of marijuana advocacy makes him stand out, but what really sets the congressman apart is the fact that he’s a successful champion of marijuana advocacy.
As a state legislator, Gaetz sponsored two cannabis bills: one to legalize “non-euphoric” medical marijuana and another to expand the rights of terminally ill patients to give them access to THC cannabis products. Both actually passed and were signed into law.
“I have supported cannabis reform as a state legislator, and I want to see the people that I fought for in my state have access to a legal, high-quality product that’s been well-researched,” the congressman told The Cannabist.
To make the whole unlikely weed hero story complete, Gaetz actually used to oppose medical cannabis until TV changed his mind. After watching the well-known CNN special report “Weed” featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Gaetz thought, “somebody should do something about that.” But in a stoner-ish delayed reaction, he then realized, wait a minute, “I realized I could do that.”
The main goal, said Gaetz, is to give the industry a leg up by letting it bank legally and allow for much greater research, which is currently hampered by its Schedule I status. “It’s a modest step forward to try to find the most possible common ground,” Gaetz said. “I’ve seen that work.”
Most likely House Bill 2020 will go the way of so many House Bills before it: the recycling bin. But we’re glad these peeps are here still trying. One of them will probably stick sooner or later.