Rep. Matt Gaetz, during a stint as a substitute cable news host, promoted marijuana legalization after the Department of Health and Human Services moved to deregulate the drug.
“Perhaps the worst decision made by the U.S. government in 1970 was to begin the war on drugs through the Controlled Substances Act,” Mr. Gaetz, Florida Republican, said on Newsmax.
The HHS Department last month recommended loosening restrictions on cannabis by reclassifying it from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule III drug, which is defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as less addictive and with a lower risk of abuse than either Schedule 1 or Schedule II drugs.
Currently, marijuana is labeled as a Schedule 1 drug, which is considered more dangerous than fentanyl. Schedule 1 drugs are also labeled as having no accepted medical use. Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Mr. Gaetz said the government should focus on ending the nation’s deadly epidemic of fentanyl abuse and not prosecuting marijuana cases.
“If something is killing 100,000 Americans every year, it should definitely be the top priority of our government,” Mr. Gaetz said.
The Biden administration has taken steps to reduce the criminalization of marijuana, which is legal in dozens of states but remains illegal at the federal level.
Last October, the president pardoned all prior federal offenses of marijuana possession and called on the health department and Attorney General Merrick Garland to start the process of changing the drug’s scheduling.
On the show, Mr. Gaetz interviewed John Morgan, a lawyer and marijuana advocate nicknamed “the pot daddy,” after he donated to marijuana reform initiatives.
“I have been talking to the president about this before he was president,” said Mr. Morgan, a supporter of Mr. Biden. “Every time I’ve seen him I bring it up, and all I can say is it’s high time.”
Mr. Morgan said this move to reschedule marijuana is “a step in the right direction,” and it “has to happen.”
“The danger is not marijuana,” he said. “The danger is the pharmaceutical industry and the liquor industry. Marijuana is nothing.”
Mr. Gaetz agreed with Mr. Morgan, adding that he believes that marijuana reform gets blocked by Big Pharma because they want the ability to control it.
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