Yesterday, Florida State Rep Joe Saunders introduced HB 859 which, if passed, would allow the use of medical marijuana (cannabis) in the State of Florida. It would also cover a caregiver from prosecution when possessing and administrating medical cannabis to patients. The bill comes on the heels of the confirmation Florida voters will be able to decide the issue for themselves this November. The Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) has not yet endorsed this or any current medical cannabis legislation in 2014 however LPF chair Dana Moxley-Cummings said yesterday of the bill:
The people of Florida have spoken. With a measure to legalize cannabis for qualified patients set to appear on the November 2014 ballot, it is only a matter of time before Florida joins the ranks of the states who recognize the patients' right to treat themselves. The Libertarian Party of Florida urges the Florida State Legislators to take a good comprehensive look at HB 859. Be proactive and set in place, before this measure is passed on the November 2014 ballot, the procedures for regulation medicinal cannabis. At the end of the day the LPF desires to end the war on drugs completely. However, that is not something we can turn into reality overnight. At the end of the day the numbers of patients I have spoken to over the past 3 years who admittedly use marijuana to treat illnesses and chronic pain has sky-rocketed. These people are getting better. They continue to treat themselves with cannabis, which threatens NO harm to anyone other the the patient himself, regardless of the law. We believe in the right of a competent patient to chose the treatment of their desire so long as it does not harm another. This right is included in the 9th Amendment of the US Constitution. The fact that many non-violent patients currently sit in jail and prison for this choice just shows that for years the Legislature has been out of touch. Here is the chance for them to redeem themselves."
The medical cannabis industry in Florida is mostly a question of not "if" a legal industry will be created, but "when" and what will the regulations look like to help patients cope and cure their diseases. One thing is almost certain, no matter which version of medical marijuana becomes legal by the close of 2014, it will be highly regulated. Other states who have legalized medical cannabis have gone through a learning process of regulation and it would be expected Florida will do the same.
Yesterday, Florida Attorney General candidate Bill Wohlsifer said:
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."
Legalization of cannabis has increased in popularity by voters which has left many politicians scrambling to change their positions on the issue or they could find themselves on the wrong side of the fence this November.
The Florida Cannabis Action Network is encouraging Floridians to support the bill through this simple action page. Florida voters can use this page to access the Florida Decides campaign to see how their state legislator rates on the legalization of cannabis.
Long time supporter of medical cannabis is gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie, who weighed in on the Saunder's bill yesterday saying:
This legislation is by no means a panacea, but it is a positive step toward the state's realization that government lacks the authority to prohibit free people from determining their own medical treatment. While I, and most Floridians, support a complete end to the prohibition on marijuana, our current state government is a lumbering beast, slow to adapt to the will of the people. With Libertarian candidates mounting very significant challenges to the political status quo in 2014, the day may come very soon when Floridians no longer have to settle for half-measures in matters of personal liberty."
We did not hear back from Governor Rick Scott asking for a quote, nor did Charlie Crist, both Wyllie's opponents in November. We do know that Crist has had a sudden change in opinion on medical marijuana as he says he is now for it, but as early as 2012 was still asking for increased penalties. So the voting public will need to decide who is truly committed to legalization of medical marijuana in Florida.
Medical science has proven the health benefits of cannabis for the human body and it has been found to be safer than many artificial drugs. The U.S. Government, for all its nay saying cannabis does not have any health benefits, has held a patent for 10 years espousing its health benefits.
Many Republicans are not budging from their draconian stance wanting to keep it illegal under all circumstances regardless of how popular legalization has become with Florida voters. Recently Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink lost a debate to Libertarian Lucas Overby because they both were on the wrong side of the medical marijuana issue and a host of other issues important to the public.