Update: This post is from early 2013. The 2014 medical marijuana ballot initiative is approved and ready to go before the voters in November.
Despite the fact that an estimated 70% of Floridians support medical marijuana, lawmakers have failed to move a bill that would put the framework for such a system in place. The “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act” didn’t even make it to hearing. While one lawmaker is promising to reintroduce an updated version next year, some are hoping to get it to the ballot instead.
“Shame on us as a Legislature for not taking the opportunity to hear this bill this year,” said the House sponsor of the bill Rep. Katie Edwards.
The bill was named after a woman who has suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease since 1986. She was self-medicating with marijuana when her home was raided. In all, 23 plants were seized.
Lawmakers who oppose the bill can’t seem to disconnect medical marijuana from recreational marijuana laws. They fail to recognize that the healing benefits of the plan outweigh the few risks that well-crafted legislation would be.
In their intelligence, they offer other solutions. Rep. Jimmy Patronis, for example, believes those people who need marijuana for medical reasons should move to another state where they can get their medicine legally. This sort of casual disregard for the logistics of medical marijuana is insulting and proof that the lawmaker doesn’t take his job seriously.
Other opponents, like Rep. Marti Coley, similarly don’t believe Florida should have medical marijuana available to patients it would help. But when pressed for a reason why she disapproves, she couldn’t provide an answer.
Rather than wait on lawmakers, which is proving to be futile, an Orlando-based fundraiser named John Morgan is working to collect the 700,000 signatures needed to get a medical marijuana measure on the ballot in 2014.
One way or another, Florida will have a medical marijuana system. If lawmakers refuse to even give it a hearing, the people (of whom 7 in 10 support medical pot) will force the issue.
“If voters mandate this upon us, we’re going to be reactionary,” said the bill’s sponsor Edwards. “I’d rather take a proactive role. We could have regulatory framework in place.”
While her efforts are noble, and are the result of her own battle with illness and the introduction to medical marijuana users during that time, Edwards is likely completely aware that the state will have a medical marijuana program one way or another and hopes to get their version passed before voters take control.
In the meantime, marijuana is against the law. Smoking it, growing it, or selling it could result in criminal charges and penalties. Contact our office today if you are charged with a marijuana offense.