House Bill 2020, introduced to Congress on Thursday, would finally remove cannabis from its current standing as a Schedule I narcotic, and reclassify it as Schedule III drug with an accepted medical value.
According to the DEA, Schedule III drugs are those with “a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.”
Current Schedule III substances include Tylenol with Codeine, ketamine and anabolic steroids.
The rescheduling bill is the brainchild of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Rep. Darren Soto. The two Florida congressmen are hoping to open the door for expanded research into medical marijuana and create a legal framework that allows canna-businesses to do their banking the traditional way, instead of relying strictly on cash.
“I have supported cannabis reform as a state legislator, and I want to see the people that I fought for in my state have access to a legal, high-quality product that’s been well-researched,” Gaetz told the Cannabist.
And while Gaetz did have a part in passing CBD oil legalization while he was a Florida state legislator in 2014, since his graduation to full-fledged congressman this year, his biggest claim to fame is introducing a bill aimed at destroying the EPA. The EPA bill hasn’t affected Gaetz’ track-record concerning cannabis, but it does raise a few red flags about his general moral fiber.
If HB 2020 passes, states with legalized recreational cannabis wouldn’t be affected, but states with medical laws would be further protected. The bill would also drastically improve researchers’ ability to access, grow and study cannabis. Currently, the only marijuana available for federal study is grown by farmers at the University of Mississippi, where the weed looks more like straw than sativa.
For Gaetz, the bill is a move towards destigmatizing marijuana and making sure that those in need have access, even if it doesn’t mean an immediate push to complete legalization.
“It’s a modest step forward to try to find the most possible common ground,” Gaetz said. “I’ve seen that work.”