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Legislators propose medical marijuana legislation as a "framework" for constitutional amendment

For the fourth year, Democratic legislators and advocates for medical marijuana are pushing for a measure to legalize the drug. What makes all of them more hopeful about success this session is the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative amendment, which will be on the ballot Nov. 4.

“We’ve seen a seismic shift in how the legislature is beginning to look at these issues,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, at a press conference Monday to announce his 157-page bill, the "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act" (SB 962), with House sponsor Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando.

Clemens pointed to efforts by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, to decriminalize the strain of non-psychoactive marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web” to help children with seizures, as a sign of bipartisan progress.

The medical marijuana measure proposed by Clemens and Saunders would be broader than the Charlotte’s Web effort, instead focusing on 24 specific “qualifying medical conditions,” including Alzheimer's Disease, cancer and chronic debilitating pain, plus treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Clemens called it a “tightly regulated framework of oversight” providing guidelines for both the licensing and permitting of dispensaries and medical cannabis farms, requiring registration identification cards, protections for doctors and protections to fight abuse, among other provisions.

"A blanket ban on access to medical marijuana is hurting Floridians," said Saunders. "We believe this bill represents the best course for implementing the constitutional amendment on this November's ballot but also gets help to those patients who simply can't wait."

Saunders and Clemens were flanked by families and patients who use medical marijuana to get relief from pain and disease, including Robert Jordan, whose wife Cathy has been helped by medical marijuana for decades while living with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Saunders was flanked by patients and family members, including Robert Jordan, a Vietnam vet whose wife Cathy has been helped by medical marijuana for decades while living with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The bill is named for Cathy, who has been fighting to legalize marijuana from her wheelchair and was by her husband's side at Monday’s press conference.

This bill, said Robert Jordan, "puts patients before politics.” 

Last year, law enforcement seized marijuana plants from the Jordans’ house in Parrish, Florida, but charges were dropped.

Saunders said the proposed medicial marijuana bills filed Monday would "put into place what an overwhelming marority of Floridians support: a comprehensive program that allows access to cannabis for medical treatment in addition to regulating when and how it can be cultivated, dispensed and used."

 Patients in 20 states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws that allow access to medical marijuana. At least 60 percent of voters have to approve the amendment for Florida to become the first Southern state to legalize use of marijuana for health-related reasons.

At least one poll showed support at 82 percent with the recent Public Policy Polling survey putting voter backing at 65 percent.

But any legislation has to overcome opposition from state leadership, which challenged the medical marijuana amendment in Florida's Supreme Court. A divided court decided on Jan. 27th in a 4-3 vote that the ballot language for the proposed constitutional amendment meets all legal requirements. The ballot measure was championed by United for Care, an advocacy group headed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, who employs Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist.

But family members said their loved ones need help now.

Carl and January Petroff, of Satellite Beach, told reporters Monday that medical marijuana has helped their 18-year-old daughter Sheridan, get some relief from debilitating and excruciating pain after years of using “dangerous,” legal painkillers which “turned her into a zombie.” 

Ryan Roman was 22 when he was diagnosed with spinal cancer, which later spread to the brain. In 2010, he was “sent home to die,” Clemens said. But Roman, now 30, began using a concentrated oil form of medical marijuana, which he credits with helping him survive along with traditional options, and now is married and the father of a 2 ½-year-old daughter.

“We’re not criminals,” Roman said, “We’re here to gain a little bit of comfort.”

 Saunders said the proposed bill "will empower patients in Florida who are dealing with HIV, cancer, tumors, chronic and debilitating pain and a host of other ailments to work closely with a licensed Florida physician to integrate medical cannabis into their treatment.

"It would empower both the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to create a tightly regulated framework of oversight, distribution and cultivation," he said. "In other words, those who need it will work with a doctor to get it and those who would abuse it would be punished."

 

Comments

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Ed Jenkins

The citizens have never wanted these dangerous illegal drugs in their community and are angry with this horrible Gaetz who is trying to harm our family friendly state with dangerous illegal drugs which these drug dealers are attempting to push on our innocent children and drug abusers are attempting to gain more access to in order to ruin their lives.

John Larkin

It's about time medical marijuana gets legalized. It's no more harmful than alcohol and contains many medical benefits. Let's help patients, not the prison industry!

John Thomas

Of course, Attorney General Bondi is against marijuana reform. No other group has seen their power so obscenely bloated by the fraudulent marijuana prohibition as have prosecuting attorneys. SAMHSA research shows more than 100 million Americans have consumed marijuana. That means D.A.s have their jackboots on the necks of near HALF the of-age population - giving them unimaginable, near life and death power that rivals the kings of old. The attorney general who directs them then, is the King of Kings!

Naturally, these power-drunk parasites are hanging on to the monstrously destructive prohibition with a death grip. They should no more be given a voice on the issue than a coach should be made the referee of his team's ball game. The foxes are all up in the henhouse!

One of the reasons we desperately need to end the counter-productive prohibition is to dry up the deep well of corruption that has swallowed our country - and world.

The truth will bring these charlatans down. Recently, a congressional inquiry pinned down Deputy U.S. Drug Czar Botticelli, asking him:

>>>"when we look at deaths or illnesses -- alcohol or other drugs are certainly -- even prescription drugs -- are a threat to public health in a way that isolated marijuana is not. Isn't that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?"

"No, no, no," Botticelli responded. "I don't dispute that fact."

Gotcha! - And all the vicious, power-mad witch-hunters.

John Thomas

@Ed Jenkins

Dangerous? - What harms - or dangers - do you imagine marijuana has?

It is the fraudulent, counter-productive prohibition that PUTS marijuana into children's hands - in their schools, parks and playgrounds. Legal, licensed vendors won't sell to minors.

The monstrously destructive marijuana prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, corruption, death, and the severe diminishment of everyone's freedom.

Keepitlegal2010

@ Ed Jenkins: The citizens have never wanted these dangerous drug cops in their community and are angry with this horrible drug cops who are trying to harm our family friendly state with dangerous illegal drug sales which these drug cops are attempting to push on our innocent children and drug cops are attempting to gain more access to in order to make money from selling drugs.

For years, the Sunrise, Fla., police have been conducting what are called "reverse stings." Undercover police detectives play the role of cocaine dealers and try to lure in potential buyers who drive or fly in from all over the country with wads of cash. If the stings are successful, informants can receive large payouts and police can seize cash, cars and other non-monetary assets. The busts have pumped millions of dollars into local coffers.

"They can take their cars, jewelry," "One fella told us a cop said, 'Hey, I like the sunglasses you're wearing,' and snatched them, so there is a real profit motive for the police."

Informants in these stings can also make a lot of money. According to Sunrise police reports, one informant not connected to Borjas' case was paid a total of $800,000 over five years for bringing drug buyers into sting operations.

Tally Folly

Relax Ed Jenkins is a right wing blogger posing as a disenfranchised Democrat who has a man crush on Rick Scott. It is the most shallow attempt to sway voter/readers ever witmnessed in Florida and if anyone is paying these dolts to post this stuff they are even dumber than they think we are.

John Thomas

@Tally Folly

Thanks. I have been debating marijuana reform on the Internet for 17 years, encountering all kinds of trolls - with some certainly paid disrupters and propagandists.

I've found the best policy is to just treat them all like legitimate posters, refute their nonsense. They usually give up, whatever their motivation.

That's the power of truth.

D

Look you dumb stoners, no one wants to live in a society full of hallucinating losers like you thats why its illegal, not because of whatever wild assed theories you losers dream up during your hallucinations so put down your drugs and join the real world or shut up because no one is interested in your pathetic lives.

Stephen Daniel

"Look you dumb stoners, no one wants to live in a society full of hallucinating losers like you thats why its illegal, not because of whatever wild assed theories you losers dream up during your hallucinations so put down your drugs and join the real world or shut up because no one is interested in your pathetic lives." We don't want a bunch of drunk people raping, beating, recking, murdering people. That is why we have to legalize. Marijuana is a substitute for the nasty "devil", alcohol. Watch what is happening in Colorado and Washington as all alcohol related crime goes down making all crime go down. Everyone wants the drunks to slow down a little on the beating, raping, recking, and murdering. People who smoke weed do not act this way in any shape or form period, end of story. Actually all drug use is declining in Washington and Colorado since legalization. You have to look at real science and real statistics if you want to know the real world.

Robert

What does the G.O.P. think about medical marijuana? They were against it wholeheartedly; until they realized, it would affect turnout. If it isn't passed prior to the election in 2014; there will be a huge turnout for the mid-terms. A huge turnout means the G.O.P. may not do well. Soooooo. Now it is very improtant to pass this humanitarian piece of legislation!!!

BossIlluminati

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

knowa

It's kind of a slam dunk with 82% polling. The problem is most patients can't afford it unless insurance covers it. And excessive taxing medicine in kind of immoral. Most will have to grow it them selve or join a grower co-op. Medical cannabis patients use far more plant than most recreational users especially if they vaporize or extract the oil's which uses more plant matter. Even in Canadian Rick Simpson hemp oil recipe it calls for one pound of medical grade dried indica bud just to make just a few ounces and most medical grade plants grow only a couple of feet high not the giant tree high plant are troops were protecting in Afghanistan. His recipe could require as many as 20 small plants just enough to make a few ounces. So one patient could require over a hundred plants year..Granted if the morality police were not involved it could be had for pennies a pound and growers are reporting it cost them about $.02 a gram to produce, but it will cost thousand unless we treat it like home brew beer or wine making. People now need to be able to plant soon especially outdoors in free sun where it will get long vegetative and flowering time for the correct ripening this take time and secure gardens need to be built soon.

Mike

Seems like a ploy to get a more restrictive measure passed. Marijuana already being legal would likely drive down November turnout causing the constitutional amendment to fail. This would leave Floridians left with an unnecessarily restrictive version of legalization. It should be left up to your doctor what conditions could be treated and not by some politician in Tallahassee.

Bill Thompson

Robert and Mike,

Your comments are spot on. This embrace of the medical marijuana legislation by the GOP is a desperate attempt to head things off at the pass before the November elections. Their intent is to keep Democrat turnout as low as possible and will use any and every trick to accomplish that.

Pope Jeffrey C.

How can I get a list of all ailments covered?

BB Walt

Read the actual bill up for voter approval for a list of medical approved uses.
Who would qualify for the program? Individuals who suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other medical conditions that their physicians find to be debilitating. Patients would only qualify for the program if their physicians also determine that marijuana’s potential benefits outweigh the potential harms.
Wake up you who blindly believe the government propaganda extolled in the 1930's film Reefer Madness, and putting it on a Class Schedule 1 list is the height of stupidity.

Joseph Mansy

The State's current policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating the suffering of debilitated patients with cannabis is inhumane. If takes a dispensary on every corner so be it. Those misguided politicians who vote in favor of pain, suffering or incarceration for debilitated patents should be remembered at the polls.

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