A Republican congressman called his colleagues “stupid” for blocking marijuana research and spoke about his cannabis conversations with President Trump in a Fox Business interview on Thursday night.
“In every conversation I’ve had with the president about medical cannabis, he’s been very supportive,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said in an interview with network host Kennedy. “But Jeff Sessions did so much to get in the way we really couldn’t get the ball rolling.”
The GOP congressman did say he’s hopeful about the prospects for federal marijuana reform under William Barr, Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions as attorney general.
During his Senate confirmation hearing this week, Barr pledged that he would not “go after companies” that have relied on Obama-era cannabis enforcement guidance that Sessions rescinded last year.
“I think it’ll be a lot easier when the White House is actually talking to the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said in the TV appearance. “Because of the Russia investigation, that relationship was so chilled that normal direction that a White House could give the department—allowing states to be able to experiment and really realize the full federalist model where they could try different things and best practices would emerge.”
“I think that you’re going to see more of that direction coming from the White House.”
Gaetz also slammed his Republican colleagues for simultaneously saying that we don’t know enough about marijuana to legalize it while at the same time refusing to change policies that hinder scientific studies that could shed more light on its effects.
“A lot of the older Republicans say, ‘well, there’s not enough research to justify rescheduling,’ and then they stand in the way of the research,” he said. “It’s so stupid that we won’t allow common-sense proposals because there’s not enough research and then they have laws that block the research. We should act like adults here.”
“Our government should be rushing to make that available to people rather than having stupid laws in effect that are related to antiquated dogmas rather than modern research.”
At the end of the day, the best way to fight addiction is to not get people addicted in the first place. If you have a lower likelihood of addiction with something natural like cannabis, our Government should rush to make that available. #MedicalCannabis pic.twitter.com/LuoAlxGQc6
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 18, 2019
Getz has previously revealed that he has discussed marijuana reform with the president in the Oval Office, but has been reluctant to provide details about the content of those conversations.
Earlier this week, the congressman filed a bill aimed at expanding marijuana research. During the last Congress, a previous version of the legislation became only the second standalone cannabis bill to be approved by a House committee.