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Matt Gaetz warns GOP that arguments against legalizing marijuana increasingly unpopular

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTroubles grow for Gaetz as former associate flips Gaetz associate pleads guilty Gaetz compares allegations against him to earmarks: 'Everybody knows that that's the corruption' MORE (R-Fla.) on Friday said arguments against legalizing marijuana are increasingly unpopular, urging members of his party to switch their positions.

Gaetz was one of five Republicans to vote for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which the House passed on Friday.

The bill would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and would expunge certain marijuana convictions. It's the first time either chamber of Congress has taken such a step.

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Gaetz said arguments against the measure from GOP colleagues “are overwhelmingly losing with the American people.”

He pointed out that every state that had a marijuana referendum on the ballot in the Nov. 3 election passed those measures. 

“The only thing that I know is more popular than getting out of the war on drugs is getting out of the war in Afghanistan,” Gaetz said.

“But if we were measuring the success of the war on drugs, it would be hard to conclude anything other than the fact that drugs have won,” he continued. “Because the American people do not support the policies of incarceration, limited research, limited choice and particularly constraining medical application.”

The MORE Act would allow states to establish their own rules and regulations surrounding medical marijuana. Individuals would no longer be prosecuted federally for marijuana offenses, leaving the question of legality to states.

The bill passed on a largely party-line vote of 228-164. Gaetz was one of five Republicans to vote in favor the bill, which six Democrats voted against.

The GOP-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the measure.