JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

MILTON — Before returning to Washington, D.C., Congressman Matt Gaetz hosted a roundtable discussion at the West Florida Baptist Church Monday morning to hear from people in the faith-based community regarding medical marijuana research.

“My personal journey on this issue has been a long one,” Gaetz said to the 10 people attending.

Gaetz said as far back as 2009, he thought medical marijuana was a “hoax,” but then he met people in Northwest Florida who have benefited from the drug. One such person is RayAnn Moseley of Gulf Breeze, who was born with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that can render some kids nearly catatonic.

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Sitting at the head of the table, Gaetz discussed the main points of his house bill, H.R. 2020, which would change marijuana from a schedule I drug to schedule III drug according to the Controlled Substance Act. Schedule III drugs are defined as drugs with moderate to low potential for physical and and psychological dependence.

Gaetz said he would like to see at least three production facilities working on medical marijuana research. Right now, he said there is just one at University of Mississippi. He would also like to create a safe harbor for such facilities so they’re not punished for researching medical marijuana. He would also like to eliminate the rule that prohibits Veterans Affairs doctors from discussing medical marijuana as a treatment option with patients.

“I want to help in a way that doesn’t create a slippery slope,” Gaetz said. “I’m trying to get the right balance.”

That slippery slope is just what most of the invited