Rep. Matt Gaetz partners with Bob Goodlatte to write medical marijuana bill

During a heated debate in the House Judiciary Committee last October, Chairman Bob Goodlatte agreed to work with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to make medical marijuana research easier. Four months later, it seems like the chairman has delivered.

Gaetz says Goodlatte has helped him write, and has promised to co-sponsor, a bill that would ease restrictions. “Goodlatte, despite a career opposing cannabis reform,” the Florida Republican tells me during a recent interview in his D.C. office, “has actually been open minded and has written a bill with our office that we are going to be dropping in a few weeks.”

While an aide in the Judiciary Committee confirmed that “we are working with Mr. Gaetz on legislation,” the Goodlatte staffer also stressed that “we are still finalizing the details” and would not confirm whether the chairman would sign off on the end product.

A rough draft of that bill obtained by the Washington Examiner would do two things. It would allow doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs “to provide recommendations to veterans regarding participation in federally-approved marijuana clinical trials.” It would also mandate that the federal government approve no less than three marijuana manufacturers “for legitimate research purposes.”

Even if Goodlatte buys in completely, the odds of the bill becoming law are slim. Republicans aren’t likely to reverse course on medical marijuana during an election year. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is even less likely to change his mind. But Gaetz remains optimistic and insists the bill has “a really good shot.”

The medical marijuana lobby already seems on board. At the head of a gaggle of lobbyists, Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn chased down Gaetz outside his office to offer support. He offered some choice words about Republican leadership before telling the congressman he could “count on us.”

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