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Ranking Member of House Committee About Delays in Legalizing Marijuana: ‘I’m Sick of This Crap. I Am Going to Burn All My Political Capital On This Issue.’

On November 3 inside the Cannon Office building on Capitol Hill, members of the American Legion along with a bipartisan group of congressmen – two representing the House Committee on Veterans Affairs – held a press conference to talk about the results of the Legion’s nationwide phone survey of veterans about medical cannabis use and research.

Standing in the meeting room with Minnesota Democratic Congressman Tim Walz, the ranking member of the House committee, and Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, who sponsored a bill (HR 2020) to reschedule marijuana to Schedule 3, was Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer, one of the long-time supporters of legalizing cannabis throwing his support behind this group. Also speaking to the group was California Democratic Congresswoman Julia Brownley, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, and California Democratic Congressman Mike Takano, vice ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

It was, once again, a demonstration that there is more and more legislator support growing among a more powerful bipartisan Congressional nucleus to legalize marijuana and end prohibition.

Louis Celli, the American Legion national director of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, read off some of the findings of the survey: 82 percent of the 1,360 respondents supported legalizing medical cannabis; one in five veterans use marijuana for physical or medical condition; 60 percent of respondents do not live in a state where medical cannabis is legal.

Congressman Tim Walz and Congresswoman Julia Brownley talk to reporters following the presentation about the recent released American Legion survey.

“I can tell you that the American Legion joining the growing caucus of people that want to see this reform to reschedule cannabis is very significant,” Gaetz said. He also took the opportunity to comment on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s recent remarks about the opioid commission report that was recently released. “I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the outrageous statements made by Governor Chris Cristie regarding medical cannabis,” he said. “It is short-sighted, it is inaccurate and it’s indefensible to suggest the proliferation of medical cannabis that is saving lives and improving the quality of living for people is somehow analgous to the plague of the opioid crisis,” he said. “The federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about cannabis in asserting its medical value. There are too many of my fellow Republicans acting like ostriches with their heads in the sand on this issue.”

Walz, reminding the audience that he represents the state that is the headquarters for the Mayo Clinic, one of the oldest and most respected research clinics in the world, says that all he and other congressmen are asking for is simple research and a systematic pathway to rescheduling cannabis. “This is truly non-partisan,” he said. “We are way past that. We are not attempting to pick a fight.”

“I am the traditional button-up congressman and I am going to fight like hell for this issue because it’s right,” Walz told CBE. “I think that this counter-intuitiveness shakes people up.”

He said that he is going to go back to the governor of Minnesota, and suggest the state pursue legalization of recreational. “We are going to monitor. We are going to tax it. We are going to do it right,” he told CBE. “Because I am sick of this crap. It’s ruining lives, it’s locking people up. I am like everyone else. I am on an evolution on this. And I have just come to the point right now where this is insanity here, what we are dealing with.”

Two warfighters from Afghanistan talked about their experiences in that war, and what they had to endure once they got home. Boone Cutler, who spent 24 months at Walter Reed upon his return, talked about the “combat cocktail” that returning vets were given that turned them into zombies. “I came from the ‘Just Say No’ generation, so I wasn’t going to smoke weed and be a stoner,” he said. “But I got to the point where I put a gun to my head, and was wondering where my self-preservation instinct went. I just lost that desire for self-preservation while on those drugs.” He said that when he finally began smoking cannabis, he slept for “five hours for the first time in five years.”

David Hodes

David Hodes

David Hodes is based in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. He is the former editor of seven different business magazines, and has contributed feature articles to several business/lifestyle publications and national cannabis magazines. Hodes is also a former field producer for CBS News, NBC, NFL Network, ESPN and other media outlets; worked as a news promotions producer for two network affiliates; and was the morning news editor for a third network affiliate.

He is member of the National Press Club, and deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Thank you Congressman Gaetz for offering to spend your political capital on this one issue. I was advised to not be a single issue constituent however, I have experience that this focus is the only way to make change happen. It comes down to the word ‘integrity’. Illegal marijuana has too much collateral damage without being a public health concern in itself. We must have integrity to wade through the swamp of the establishment to see change in the ripples we make. The American Legion has shown integrity of keeping the social safety net mended for our veterans despite any of the Administrations that have neglected taking care of our soldiers. Thank you Congressman Gaetz and others that stand solid with integrity for rescheduling cannabis for the betterment of our society.

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