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Connect to Congress: Gaetz on marijuana, DACA, CHIP Funding and offshore drilling

Photo: Rep. Matt Gaetz

Medical marijuana

A recent move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to change an Obama-era policy on how United States attorneys handle marijuana prosecutions has Congressman Matt Gaetz upset.

Last week, Sessions repealed a Department of Justice guideline. The move instructed attorneys to no longer deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.

In this week's Connect To Congress, Gaetz has some pretty strong words about that change.

"Jeff Sessions' policy would take this country backward. I want the 50 states in this country to each develop their own policies on medical marijuana. Some will get it right and some will get it wrong. And best practices will emerge and be copied, but it is incredibly heartless and mean to disrupt the delivery of medicine to the people who need it and who are benefited. Jeff Sessions' policy would make sick children sicker. It would deprive veterans of health care they need to deal with PTSD. It's a punch to the gut of caregivers to the people who are taking care of people with cancer and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I want to see marijuana work in a medical clinical setting for the Americans who will benefit from it and I don't think the Federal Government should stand in the way and that's why I’m pursuing options to block Jeff Sessions from impairing the health care of patients in our state," he told Channel 3 News.

While serving as a state representative, Gaetz sponsored the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. It allowed patients to use low THC marijuana.

DACA

Rep. Gaetz said he is not a supporter of reauthorizing a DACA program in the absence of border security and other immigration proposals.

"The question is whether or not we're going to tie DACA to funding of government. The government runs out of money on the 19th and we need to deal with that for the sake of our war fighters and veterans and people relying on the operation of the government in order to survive. I think we should not try to shoehorn DACA and immigration into an artificial timeline in line with funding of the government. We should give them their own dignity and treat them separately," he said.

CHIP Funds

Rep. Gaetz said health care for children is an important priority of the government.

"It's one of the reasons why I voted to reauthorize and fund the CHIP program. We sent that bill out of the House of Representatives and unfortunately now for several weeks the Senate has not taken a vote on this legislation. I have every expectation that CHIP will be reauthorized and will be funded but it's important to recognize that we've already performed on that legislation in the House and the Senate hasn't acted yet and we need them to act because you can judge the success of any society based on how they treat children and the health care of children," he said.

Offshore drilling

Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced it is removing Florida coasts from consideration for offshore oil drilling. Rep. Gaetz said he's happy President Trump has agreed with the input that he and Governor Scott provided.

"We have a unique combination of environmental assets and military assets and we want to protect them from drilling, and of course, President Trump has delivered on that commitment," he said.

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