Bills to legalize medical marijuana introduced in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Florida Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:02pm EST

Marijuana plants are displayed for sale at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, November 27, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Marijuana plants are displayed for sale at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, November 27, 2012 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida state legislators introduced identical bills on Monday to legalize medical marijuana treatment in the 2014 legislative session, in a bid to win approval before a constitutional amendment on the issue comes up for a public vote in November.

Senators Jeff Clemens and Joe Saunders, both Democrats, brought numerous patients and their family members to the unveiling of their bill, which would effectively implement by statute the constitutional amendment that is on the November ballot

"This bill puts patients before politics," said Cathy Jordan of Parrish, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, who has lived 28 years with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig Disease.

Jordan, whose speech is slurred by her illness, sat in her wheelchair next to her husband, Robert, who read her statement at a news conference in front of the Florida Senate.

The amendment, and the newly introduced legislation, would specify tight state regulation for doctors to prescribe marijuana for treatment of conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS and other severe afflictions.

Identically worded bills were introduced in both houses of the state legislature on Monday, offering greater ease of passage.

The session starting March 4 will mark the fourth year such a bill has been introduced. Republican legislative leaders, along with Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, vigorously oppose the constitutional amendment.

The Florida Supreme Court approved the ballot language on the amendment, though, and it will become law if 60 percent of the voters approve it next November.

Polls show the ballot proposal has a strong chance of success. If the amendment passes, Saunders said the 2015 Legislature will have to pass implementing legislation specifying "how will we grow it, how will people who need it get access to it and how will those who are seeking to abuse it receive consequences?

While Republican leaders oppose the medical marijuana amendment, a separate bill allowing use of a non-euphoric marijuana extract known as "Charlotte's Web" is also making progress in the Florida House. The derivative is drawn from a portion of the marijuana plant that does not get users high, but has shown results in treating seizures.

The constitutional amendment is seen as a driver for Democratic voter turnout at the polls in November. The petition campaign that put it on the ballot was bankrolled by Orlando attorney John Morgan, a close ally of former Governor Charlie Crist, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for another term as governor.

Crist supports the amendment and political observers expect the referendum will draw more young and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Comments (23)
Jingan wrote:
…keep’em drugged..they will not revolt…new Guvmnt policy

Feb 10, 2014 8:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse
knowa wrote:
The problem I see is 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 them selves or join a grower co-op. Medical cannabis patients use far more plant than most recreational patient if they vaporizing or extract the oil’s which even Canadian Rick Simpson hemp oil recipe calls for one pound of medical grade indica bud just to make a few ounces most medical grade plants are only a couple of feet high not the giant tree high plant are troop were protecting in Afghanistan. His recipe could require as many as 20 plants just enough to make a few ounces. So one patient could require over a hundreds plants.Granted if the morality police were not invoked it could be had for pennies a pound, but it will cost thousand unless we treat it like home brew or wine making.

Feb 10, 2014 9:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
goldenrules1 wrote:
@ Jingan: If marijuana made people less likely to revolt, then why has the government tried to outlaw it for the last 80 years? Your theory does not hold water in light of the fact that Nixon put marijuana in schedule I to punish the hippies that were protesting the Vietnam war.

Feb 10, 2014 10:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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