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Florida legislature hears marijuana bill tomorrow

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A Florida Senate bill is moving quickly through the Florida legislature promoting medical grade cannabis, however it is infuriating marijuana legalization advocates. SB 1030 would define medical grade marijuana as any cannabis substance containing less than .5% THC and more than 15% CBD (the chemical in the plant proven to have major health benefits) and the bill would also not allow smoking the medicinal plant. For some reason, politicians draw the line when people want to inhale products into their bodies.

The bill has the support of Republican Senate President Don Gaetz which is most likely why it is skating through the Florida Senate. Ironically, it was Gaetz who we profiled in a recent story who illegally bought and gave marijuana to help a friend in need. The marijuana was smoked by his friend and helped his friend cope with a terminal illness.

The bill has put cannabis advocacy groups in the precarious position to push against a bill that would open at least a small window to medical marijuana legalization. The bill, as drafted with its restrictive language, is estimated to help less than 500 Floridians whereas the initiative slated to be on the November, 2014 ballot is expected to help exponentially more patients - likely in the millions within just a few years.

Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network (FLCAN), said on Friday, "Lawmakers need to understand all cannabis has medical value and everyone should have the choice to use cannabis, without fear, provided they use it responsibly. Lawmakers are asking all the right questions and, thanks to our supporters, Florida CAN is here in Tallahassee working three bills through the House and Senate. If all passed, Florida will have the best cannabis regulations in the country."

The fear cannabis advocates have is that should SB 1030 make it through the Florida legislature and get signed by Governor Rick Scott into law, Florida voters may feel the initiative on the November ballot is a mute point and may skip the question when voting.

Should SB 1030 pass, then it allows Republicans political cover in the 2014 election cycle to show they are on the side of what most Floridians want - legalized medical marijuana. However, depending upon how full legalization advocates like FLCAN and the Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) handle the marketing throughout the rest of the year, they can expose the Republican effort for what it is - nothing more than whitewash in order to get elected.

LPF candidates for governor and attorney general are both in favor of legalizing marijuana and have exposed the problems associated with its prohibition. Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie states on his website, "The war on drugs has been an abject failure. People are still doing drugs despite the laws. As a country, we’re spending $1 trillion each year to fight drugs. 60% of our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders. We’ve been battling this war for more than 40 years. Lives are still being destroyed." Florida Attorney General candidate Bill Wohlsifer states on his website, "Senator Jeff Clemens stepped up to the plate in 2011 and he just keeps on swinging. But this time he has public opinion on his side; finally. Today in the Capitol rotunda I observed patients, their family and friends speak in support of Sen. Clemens and Rep. Joe Saunders’ reintroduction of the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act. They told their stories of how systemic marijuana use has cured an illness or revitalized a patient’s standard of living and asked their legislators to not treat these patients as criminals. The last time I was in the Capitol Building concerning the CJMCA (which I wrote in 2012) I was there, along with Mrs. Jordan and Jodi James, to join Rep. Katie Edwards in a press conference announcing that the proposed bill had died in committee under Republican leadership, without debate, during the 2013 legislative session. Today, I witnessed overwhelming support for this common sense bill. What a difference a year makes. Issues that Libertarians have supported since 1972, such as same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana have finally found their way into Florida’s political debate.”

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