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Florida cannabis bill heads to Florida Senate Judiciary Committee this morning

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Today, April 21, 2014, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee will hear Senate Bill 843 at 10:45 a.m. and will likely move along soon for a vote in the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives. SB 843 is the most restrictive of the cannabis bills floating around Tallahassee this 2014 legislative session and would offer relief to an estimated 400 patients in Florida.

Passage of HB 843 would allow researchers to study cannabidiol & its effect on intractable childhood epilepsy, would affirm cannabis has medical benefits, would discourage arrest of Floridians possessing low THC-high CBD (non-smokable) marijuana and allow for the expunction of criminal records for some prior convictions. The bill is highly targeted to a very select group of patients whereas other bills are more inclusive, though are less likely to pass this legislative session.

The bill offers Republicans 'cover' during the 2014 election season to show they are at least partially on the side of Floridians when it comes to marijuana. Polling of Florida voters has consistently shown anywhere from 75-84% approve the use of cannabis for medical reasons. Regardless of the outcome of the 2014 Florida legislative session, Florida voters will be able to go to the voting booth this November to decide on a more expansive program for cannabis use for medical reasons. As opposed to the highly restrictive SB 843, the initiative found on the ballot is designed to help thousands of patients in need.

Libertarians feel Floridians should be able to grow their own cannabis on their own property without interference from government officials and should be able to sell that cannabis, if they so choose. The closest legislation in Tallahassee that does that is HB 1039, which has a long shot in passing. The Libertarian Party platform states, "Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society."

Libertarian Party of Florida candidate for Attorney General, Bill Wohlsifer wrote the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, which was re-introduced this legislative session allowing for a broader use of medical marijuana in Florida. Current Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is against legalization and has fought free market alternatives since she has been in office. Wohlsifer and Bondi will face off in the November, 2014 election against whoever wins the Democratic Party's primary.

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