Matt Gaetz is a 34-year-old attorney who, while in the Florida legislature, pushed for accelerated executions and blocked any revision of the stand-your-ground law following Trayvon Martin’s shooting death. He now represents most of the Florida Panhandle in Congress. Most of us would call those solid conservative bona fides “textbook reactionary,” but back at home in Gaetz’s First Congressional District, they’re local mores. His district is so solidly Republican, it’s an island of dark red floating in a less-red sea.

The district is the most conservative in Florida, with a plus-22 conservative rating from the Cook Partisan Voting Index; which may be off by double-digits. In November’s election, Gaetz defeated the Democratic challenger by nearly 40% points. So far in Congress, Gaetz has made waves for introducing a bill that would permanently abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. And in February, during the buildup leading to the failure to repeal or replace Obamacare, Gaetz ended a town-hall meeting by leading a chant to “Make America Great Again!”

Gaetz, then, is the perfect person to carry what could be the single most important marijuana-related reform bill in a session of Congress full of cannabis-related legislation.
On April 6, Gaetz and fellow Florida Rep. Darren Soto, (D-Orlando) introduced a bill that, if passed, would force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III. Because, you see, even if Floridians want to shoot people and then put shooters on an accelerated death-row conveyor belt, they want to use medical marijuana while doing it. On the same day Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz were elected, Florida voters also overwhelmingly voted in favor of expanded medical cannabis access.

Gaetz stated, “This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year. Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea.” Rescheduling is a slightly different tactic than outright legalization. Some marijuana hardliners want “descheduling,” rendering cannabis no more controlled than a tomato (as long as it’s not an invasive species of tomato), but Gaetz’s tactic is both more effective and more realistic. It also goes further than some prior efforts, led by Democrats.

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