The most recent proposal for marijuana before Congress would place the drug as a Schedule III substance, a classification shared by Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and dronabinol. Two Florida congressmen, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz and Democratic Representative Darren Soto, introduced legislation that would transfer marijuana to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act from its current standing as a Schedule I substance, the strictest of the classifications.
Having marijuana on a lower scale would uphold the rights of states that have legalized the the use of it medically, allow for banking activities, and create a clearer path for research, Gaetz stated, “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.”
When Gaetz was a state legislator in 2014 and 2015, he backed legislation to legalize “non-euphoric” marijuana for medical use and a proposal to allow terminally ill patients to access full-strength, non-smokeable cannabis. Both were signed into law. Prior to those efforts, Gaetz stood in opposition to medical marijuana proposals. What changed, he said, was watching Doctor Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special report, “Weed,” which chronicled the stories of medical marijuana patients and the challenges of medical research.
After watching the series, Gaetz said he thought that “somebody should do something about that.” He stated, “Until, I realized I could do that.” If successful, the yet-to-be-named House Bill 2020 would not affect recreational marijuana businesses in operation. Gaetz said The legislation is aimed at bolstering research and creating an economic boost by allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to bank openly. He said, “It’s a modest step forward to try to find the most possible common ground. I’ve seen that work.”
Marijuana’s Schedule I status has resulted in limitations for research. Federally approved studies have to utilize a marijuana study drug grown by University of Mississippi, the only federally approved cultivator. Researchers have long argued that the study the does not accurately represent the potency and strains available to consumers in dispensaries. In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it would allow privately operated cultivators to apply to grow marijuana for research, and several companies have started the application process.