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Medical Marijuana in Florida: Legislators File Long-Shot Proposal to Amend the Constitution

| January 3, 2012

Florida subtitles yet to be drafted.

For the second consecutive year, medical marijuana legislation has been filed in the Florida legislature. In fact, when state Sen. Larcenia Bullard, the Miami Democrat, filed a companion bill to Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clements’ House bill, it was the first time that medical marijuana bills have been filed in both chambers. If passed, the measure would appear on the 2012 ballot as a medical marijuana amendment to the Florida Constitution. It would have to pass by a majority of at least 60 percent. (See the full text of the resolution below.)

It’s progress for medical marijuana proponents. But it’s also questionable whether such efforts are simply pipe dreams.

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Florida seems to pride itself on being on the opposite coast from California, the medical marijuana homeland. The Golden State being perceived as young. The Sunshine State perceived as old. Mountains, snow and deserts on one side; coastal flats, thunder and lightning, and everglades on the other. Earthquakes vs. hurricanes. Cold Pacific vs. warm Atlantic. Disneyland vs. Disneyworld. Marijuana vs. OxyContin Express. Politics controlled by liberals versus politics controlled by conservatives.

And yet, we both grow oranges and avocados. In both states, a majority favor the idea of medical marijuana. Here in Florida, the figure is 57 percent, according to a poll earlier this year from Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. And that’s no pothead polling firm. Tony Fabrizio was Rick Scott’s pollster.

Granted, that 57 percent is well below the 73 percent level nationally. And it’s worth remembering that, despite comprising only 36 percent of registered voters, Republicans hold the governor’s mansion and majorities in both chambers. In other words, Florida Republicans are motivated and organized, and run the show in the Sunshine State. And save maverick, libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura, Republicans are notoriously hard-line on marijuana.

florida center for investigative reportingBut it’s also worth noting that Republicans have maintained control by capturing a significant part of the 20 percent of Floridians who consider themselves unaffiliated. It would seem the 20 percent are key to any hopes for medical marijuana advocates. In the Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates poll, Florida independents favored medical marijuana by a 65-35 margin.

Medical marijuana efforts here are fairly nascent. They’ve only been underway since 2009.

And as in all states that have looked at medical marijuana, Florida advocates’ biggest initial hurdle is the perception that anyone who supports medical marijuana supports open drug use. That’s made the issue a political pariah (remember the dismissive answer provided by then-candidate Barack Obama, who acknowledged he smoked pot as a youngster when asked about marijuana legalization during a televised town hall meeting. That perception makes people reluctant to even discuss the issue, despite clear support for it. In state newspapers, the issue has gotten little more than “how cute” coverage.

But that’s not the case in college newspapers, such as The Alligator. Or on internet sites such as Toke of the Town.

You can also read about the issue on the lawyerly Medical Marijuana Blog, get a more stoner view in The Weed Blog, or the more (again, pardon the double entendre), high-minded, serious approach from The Marijuana Policy Project and The 420 Times.

One of the state leaders, People United for Medical Marijuana, (PUFMM — puff medical marijuana, get it?) is trying to bypass the Republican legislature by collecting enough signatures on a petition to force the issue on the ballot. But as of Oct. 29, PUFMM had only gathered 29,922 signatures — only four percent of the 676,811 it needs by Feb. 1.

The attention from college newspapers and blogs shows not only the depth and diversity of support for medical marijuana, but that this is an issue defined as much by generational differences as the typical conservative-liberal divisions. Previous generations were the ones who classified marijuana as being more dangerous and having less medicinal value than Heroin. Marijuana would actually have to be downgraded from its current position as a schedule 1 drug to a mere schedule 2 drug to be considered equal to heroin.

For young people, who are increasingly using marijuana (more than one-fifth of 18 to 25 year olds smoke), that assessment of pot as among the most dangerous known drugs rings false.

But everyone knows that young people, at worst, don’t vote, and at best aren’t a dependable voting constituency.

Now, if seniors were to get involved … It could get interesting in Tallahassee.

–Ralph De La Cruz, FCIR, and FlaglerLive

Florida Joint Resolution on Medical Marijuana

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22 Responses for “Medical Marijuana in Florida: Legislators File Long-Shot Proposal to Amend the Constitution”

  1. it was put here, for me and you ~ Smokey from Friday

  2. Knowledge says:

    I feel it’s time for this law to be passed. Our state would benefit tremendously on the tax revenues earned, along with saving tax payers money by housing the nonviolent “criminals” in jail and prison for offenses that could be saving lives. It is important for those who are against it to realize the medical purposes cannabis can have on our society. There are so many cancer patients, aids patients, and numerous others that have DIED, because marijuana is illegal in this state. They are the ones who suffer the most, not the ones in jail. People need to research and realize cannabis has been around since the declaration of independence, infact, the declaration of idependence was written on, HEMP paper. If we are really going through global warming, cannabis would save millions of trees and forrests and the habitats that the animals live in. It provides numerous beneficial factors that our government seems to overlook, or neglect. It’s time to do away with the pain pills and other medicines that have worse side effects than they had before, and legalize a plant that God put on the earth, to benefit mankind, not to punish.

  3. Sandra Reynolds via Facebook says:

    Bummer! Our conserv legislators should give it a try and mellow out.

  4. Rocky Mac says:

    I think some of the seniors in town should give it a try. It may help with the pain of arthritis and general anxiety. And they don’t have to worry about overdosing.

  5. My Name is Bubba says:

    Seniors will get severe munchies, and business at the local eateries will prosper.
    Bring it on!

  6. Badge says:

    America needs to remove alcohol from the shelves and stock them with MaryJane. How many have died from alcohol related accidents and how many have died from cannabis related accidents ? I rest my case !

  7. Gia says:

    Drogue like this one is for dumb stupid ameican idiots. If you want to kill yourself do it now & the world will be better of without you.

  8. I smoke and I’m Proud that I do. Law or No Law, I’ll smoke When I want, Where I want, How I want. Last Time I check This was the Land of the Free!!!! Just Saying. Hell this country is in Debt for Trillions of dollars. Let the Plant be Free and see how much we can get bring that Debt down. I say it could come down by Billions in the First Year alone. Try It and It May Just Be what the Whole USA Needs Right Now!!!!!!!!

  9. Doug Chozianin says:

    Do you want Florida to become like California? Look what drugs have done to its legislators.

    If you do drugs, you’re just plain dumb. (If you are a dumb druggie and want the greatest high, try 2 little grams of heroin… It’s a lethal dose!)

    • Badge says:

      Yea…darn drug addicts….Now where’s my beer ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dude if u put something that can kill u in a lower schedule then weed then we have problems in this country then the pot problems the only reason it was made illegal in the first place was because of lobbying from the lumber industry to keep a cheap readily avaivlable resource (hemp) that can be made into paper and oil ect and made cheaper
      And cocaine crack heroine and methamphetamine are all schedule 2 and pot is schedule 1 and carries a worse punishment then all of those lethal drugs is absurd
      And the worst drug that the people who are saying isn’t anywhere near as bad as pot is alcohol which kills millions per year (car crashes, fights, over reactions with guns) yet pot is worse and you people are disgusting for being overzealous with your discrimination against people who “abuse” pot

  10. Rick G says:

    Yes its time to make a plant legal in Florida …. What a concept!

  11. Knowledge says:

    It provides alternative fuels, papers, medicines, textiles, foods, and oils, a serious cash crop that the state is missing out on. California is smart enough to realize that cannabis has less effects, nonlethal, than the narcotics the dr’s are prescribing. It’s common sense, people don’t need to let dr’s “experiment” on them with new drugs that give them seizures and even cause death. Cannabis is overall healthier and doesn’t have to be smoked. For those with a dvr record the show Weed Wars on discovery channel to see what our state is missing out on. Over 16 billion dollars annualy in tax revenue, not to mention helping those that need it most.

  12. Knowledge says:

    Everybody register to vote and GO VOTE no excuses…

  13. Anonymous says:

    The worst is the people who say pots bad pop pain pills and chase them with anti depressants and alcohol yet the people who can (and I can attest to this) quit any time with no withdrawal or negative side effects yet we are the ones who are wrong

  14. Bart says:

    Just like anything there’s a potential for abuse but the legislation is keeping it illegal for the wrong reasons I mean for god sake mcdonalds is worse for your body then weed yet that is perfectly legal ciggerettes kill millions yearly yet they are legal but pot is illegal for all the wrong reasons

  15. Bart says:

    For one they are keeping it illegal because they believe that people will abuse it no matter what which is wrong. Cancer aids multiple sclarosis arthritis back pain and neurological disorders all improve with medical marijuana/thc use
    Also the government “medical” studies done on monkeys when they released the original document they said they gave the monkeys 30 joints a month for 3 months and that caused brain cell death

    But what they failed to say was that they lied and put gas masks on the monkeys and pumped 60 joints an hour into the monkeys with next to no oxygen and were basically suffocating the monkeys and causing brain damage and brain death due to the lack of oxygen

    • Anthony says:

      Evan if MJ was legal and people did abuse it they are not going to die from overdosing on it. Unlike Oxycontin or a hydrocodone. P.S i have friends that pass from o/d on pills but none of them ever died from some Marry Jane

  16. Bart says:

    Time to go to the doctor for pain pills (that are not garenteed to relieve my pain but are garenteed a later addiction) for a grivous injury to my hand instead of pot which I know will help with the pain (I smoked it for my hand and it felt better but the pain pills barely helped) but because I got pulled over with about 2 grams I went to jail for 6 days but I wouldn’t go to jail for haveing a narcotic that causes addiction and overdoses seizures and strokes but I can’t smoke weed which the worst side affects are munchies and dry mouth and maybe a mad hardcore game of hacky sack

  17. Politics says:

    The American Political field has went to hell over the past couple years due to special interests. We need to stand up for our rights and take back our world from Big Pharma, Big Tobbacco, Big Insurance and really just big companies. It is time for our elections to stop being purchased.

  18. ryan says:

    I don’t know how that anyone can call themselves a good Christian who has compassion, but has no problem putting cancer patients or AIDS patients in jail who smoke marijuana. Media is too scared to cover stories like that as well.

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