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Sponsor of drug tests for welfare recipients says he supports marijuana use for seizures

The House sponsor of the bill to test welfare recipients for drug use has joined the bandwagon to decriminalize a non-euphoric strain of marijuana for medical purposes.

Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, wrote on his Facebook page, and in a letter to his supporters Monday, that he will support an emerging House proposal to allow for the legal sale of marijuana high in cannibidiol but low in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that produces a high. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week heard testimony from parents seeking a state exception to the ban on marijana for medicinal uses.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, stunned supporters of the effort last week when he announced he will propose a committee bill to seek to exempt certain strains of marijuana from the state ban, so that parents of children suffering from severe epilepsy could have access to the extracts. A recent medical breakthrough in Colorado has shown that the strain, known as Charlotte's Web, has signficantly reduced seizures in some children.

Now Smith, who sponsored legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 to require the state to give drug tests to people seeking welfare benefits, has abandoned his opposition to drugs to support the exception.

"As the representative who ran the bill on drug testing welfare recipients, I want to make it clear in this statement that I DO NOT endorse the smoking of marijuana for the purpose of becoming intoxicated (high), I do however plan on supporting a change in statutes that will decriminalize the use of pill, cream or other forms of the plant that do not have enough Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to produce a high but will allow for it to achieve its medical purpose," Smith wrote in his letter.

"...Regrettably, there are those currently speaking out in support of legal marijuana with the goal of creating a legal means to get high. As I support this good bill it is my hope that they would set aside their childish goal and instead focus on providing this important substance in pill, cream, or other form containing less than .5% THC but having the medical ability to help those who need it. There are children who are suffering and even dying from severe epilepsy. If the discussion is really medical marijuana, then let’s get behind the Florida house and truly help those in need."

The drug testing law has been struck down as unconstitutional in federal court but Scott said this month that he will appeal the ruling, even though it cost the state more to implement than it produced in cost savings.

Smith also sponsored the bill that to allow state agencies to drug test their employees and fire those who test positive but that proposal has also been put on hold pending a lawsuit. 

Unlike Smith, however, Scott has said he does not support allowing an exception for medical use of marijuana to help children suffering from seizures. Scott has joined Attorney General Pam Bondi in opposing a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot and asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject it as misleading.
When asked by a reporter last week if he would support allowing parents of children with epilepsy to have access to marijuana for medical uses, the governor said: "I oppose illegal drug abuse, I’ve watched what it does to families. I think the attorney general has done the right thing with the advice she gave the Supreme Court. Have a great day!"



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ed jenkins

The readers have grown tired of their hometown paper' efforts to damage this great city and state by advocating illegal drug use. If this paper would like to stop subscriber losses it would be best to take the interests of the readers into account who do not want a society full of drug dealers and drug abusers.


You vote Republican, you get what you deserve.


I support this effort because I believe this is simply an effort to so narrowly define what legalized marijuana could be used for, that even if there are enough signatures, that it turns off people from coming out to the polls.

Robert Newton

This newspaper is not losing subscribers, like Mr. Jenkins said above. In fact, the readers of this newspaper want common sense laws that can keep pace with the medical industry's advancements. Medical marijuana is one of them. To continue to incarcerate human beings for marijuana, while private corporations profit from their incarceration, and when marijuana itself is NOT dangerous is as stupid as stupid gets. The ones against medical marijuana are either: ignorant, stupid, OR self-serving. Nobody is talking about having a society full of drug dealers and drug abusers. That's what we currently have right now, due to it being illegal and underground. And that's where Ed Jenkins shows his ignorance. Unfortunately, there are many more "Ed Jenkins" out there because the Republicans love to spread misinformation to their constituents, who believe every word they say (again, because of ignorance). Wake up people! Or should I say...sheeple!

Alexia Pavkov

Very well said Robert Newton! Thank you! My son has suffered uncontrolled seizures for 13 years. I'm sure Ed would change his tune if it was his child suffering.


There should be an exception for medical marijuana that is prepared for medicinal purposes without the high levels of THC. The citizens of Florida support common sense laws for the purpose of providing medical care in special circumstances. Those that oppose this type of legislation should stop being ignorant of the facts and should educate themselves of the facts in an effort to become more enlightened in the 21st century.


Ed you are right again. The only people here arguing in favor of this are druggies themselves, just the type of lowlifes we want to prevent children from turning into and these lazy slackers just want to get their drugs easier and cheaper. I wish the Herald would stop printing this drug propaganda but its no wonder that the herald once again lost daily subscribers (-4%) while the sun sentinel picked up 8%.

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