Much like the bud on a beautiful cannabis plant, the number of bills going through the Florida legislature continues to grow. On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, HB 1039 had its first reading in the Florida House and is now in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for review. Democratic Florida House Representative Randolph Bracy went all out with the introduction of this bill to fully re-legalize the use of marijuana for any purpose - with some strings attached. HB 1039 would allow the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21 years of age in Florida and would also re-legalize marijuana related accessories legal for sale such as pipes and bongs.
The bill is one of at least four in the Florida legislature, not including the initiative which is set to be on the ballot this November for voters to legalize cannabis use for medical purposes. This is quite a reversal when just last year such a bill would never see the light of day. That changed last year once state politicians saw the writing on the wall - and poll numbers showing Floridians overwhelmingly favor legalization of marijuana.
We have not heard from the Libertarian Party of Florida, however we suspect they will endorse one of the bills and Bracy's bill may be the closest to the libertarian position of respecting individual rights. The Libertarian Party's has a principle of holding "that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose."
Across the nation there are a growing number of bills in state legislatures weighing the same arguments - whether to legalize and to what extent they wish to legalize. The states of Washington and Colorado have legalized the plant's use for any purpose with certain conditions. And just this past Tuesday, right in President Barack Obama's backyard, Washington, D.C. decriminalized possession of marijuana. In New Hampshire, medical patients will likely soon be able to grow their own cannabis for treatment on their own property.
We have heard from some readers confused about the terms used in this new world of legalization, medical cannabis, decriminalization, recreational use and so on. Briefly we will do our best to explain some here:
- Legalization - is widely thought to mean full legalization of the cannabis plant; to grow, posses and ingest without interference from the government. Additionally, it could be regulated much like wine and beer is sold and consumed for recreational or medical use - it is up to the consumer.
- Decriminalization - is when someone is given a citation similar to a traffic ticket, so instead of going to jail, one is given a fine if found smoking or possessing cannabis.
- Medical Marijuana - in all its variations, at its core means those with a medical need to use marijuana (cannabis) can do so with a prescription, however others would go to jail for possessing marijuana.
- Cannabis - cannabis is the actual name of the plant and is often referred to by its slang "marijuana".
- CBD - CBD is a chemical found in the cannabis plant which has been proven to posses major medical benefits from curing certain cancers to helping children with seizures. Its benefits are widespread and as legalization continues, more studies may reveal more benefits. Often it is taken as an oil.
- THC - is a chemical found in the cannabis plant which likely helps Alzheimer's and Myasthenia Gravis patients. It is also seen to help protect the plant's growth from harmful UV rays.