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Congress Debates Medical Pot For Cops and Calls for More Research

Maureen Meehan

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Congress Debates Medical Pot For Cops and Calls for More Research

Congress debates medical marijuana for cops and calls for more research, marking a significant shift in the culture. Yesterday, they discussed a measure calling on federal agencies to study the use of medical marijuana by police officers. The sponsor of this measure? A Republican from Florida. Wait, what?

Cannabis For Cops

The discussed measure was an amendment to the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017. The goal of this legislation is to “protect the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers” and requires the U.S. attorney general to consult with the secretaries of defense and veterans affairs to submit reports to Congress on “mental health practices and services that could be adopted” by law enforcement agencies. The amendment would also require the report to include “medical cannabis treatment on mental health.”

Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz from Florida is the amendment’s sponsor.

“The federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about cannabis,” he said during the debate yesterday. 

“There is substantial evidence that indicates that there is a case to be made for the medical efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of mental health and particularly PTSD,” he continued. “Our policies should follow the science and not this ridiculous, antiquated dogma perpetuated by lies through the federal government.”

Sounds heated, right?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

During the debate, Gaetz also lashed out at the “idiotic policy in this country where we list cannabis as a Schedule I drug,” in the same class as heroin, meth, and LSD, while claiming it has no medical value, thus sabotaging research.

However you identify politically, you have to admit: it takes a lot of backbone to call out the federal government’s lies and deceit in such a direct way.

David Cicilline, Democratic Congressman from Rhode Island, tweeted some praise for Gaetz for being reasonable and telling the Judiciary committee to “follow the science.” 

Is There Any Support?

Other members from both parties spoke during the hearing about the importance of studying the medical benefits of marijuana. But Gaetz said the Department of Justice has been “totally nonresponsive” to requests from members of Congress to modernize its approach to marijuana.

Additionally, he also called out the Department of Veterans Affairs “gag rule” on allowing its doctors to discuss medical cannabis with their patients.

 This past summer, the House Rules Committee blocked a vote on a bill that would have allowed VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans to treat pain and PTSD. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day. Most are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Final Hit: Congress Debates Medical Marijuana For Cops

In the end, Gaetz withdrew the amendment.

No matter how you feel about police officers, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that they are just people. And like the rest of us, they are subject to diseases, disabilities, and mental illnesses. When we acknowledge this, it makes sense for police officers to have access to medical cannabis.

But there’s another thing we need to talk about. At the same time that Congress debates medical marijuana for cops, thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana by cops. We’re all for easy access to weed, for both medicinal and recreational purposes. But we can’t help but think about some potential hypocrisy here.

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