In a CNN interview on Saturday morning, Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz responded to a clip of Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, speaking negatively about the effects of legalized marijuana.
“I think that her reflection shows a real ignorance to the science demonstrating that in states where there are marijuana programs, you see a reduction in Schedule One drug recommendations. You also see a reduction in the types of overdoses that are crippling our country and hollowing out America,” he said.
In a clip from April, Conway expressed worries about increased THC — the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — having negative effects on users. “For all the folks who talk about the benefits and the legality of marijuana, there are many health professionals and employers increasingly concerned that this is not your grandfather or your father’s marijuana,” she said. “We’re very concerned about the effect on the brain among young people” (Conway also incorrectly referred to THC as “TCH”).
Gaetz noted that the issue is more generational than partisan. “To my friend Kellyanne Conway, I would say, ‘Okay, boomer.’ That’s a very boomer approach to marijuana,” he said. He also noted Conway’s THC error.
Gaetz also defended that marijuana is a safer alternative to opioids. “If we have a lower acuity, anti-pain alternative to heroin and opioids, I think that you’ll see the country do a lot better,” he said. “More and more young people in the country are saying, ‘Look, let’s just go ahead and let people live better lives with a more natural alternative that has a lower propensity for addiction.'”
CNN anchor Michael Smerconish asked Gaetz about President Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana. “I’ve worked to be a positive influence with the president on marijuana reform.” When asked if he thinks he can gain Trump’s support on the issue, Gaetz chuckled.
“President Trump is no fan of marijuana, but I think that he made commitments about medical marijuana in his 2016 campaign that we still need to fulfill.” He also said that Attorney General William Barr is in the process of speeding up approvals for research.
Similarly, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden received criticism from younger politicians last week when he said marijuana may be a “gateway drug” and would not legalize it if elected. Reflecting the generational rather than partisan divide on the issue, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a response knocking the 77-year-old candidate’s claims.
“Marijuana should be legalized and drug consumption should be decriminalized. These are matters of public health,” the 30-year-old congresswoman wrote.