There are 21 million people in Florida, millions of whom will eventually qualify for the medical-grade marijuana that voters approved in November. Very soon, a hell of a lot of weed will be legally sold in the Sunshine State. And so far, lawmakers have given exactly seven companies the right to grow and sell all of that pot.
Florida’s mostly Republican legislators can barely pass basic laws like tax cuts or budget plans without tripping over themselves or spiraling into intra-party screaming matches. They’re so bad at writing their own laws that, as the Miami Herald astutely pointed out last week, gigantic companies like Florida Power & Light have to write laws for them. The current Legislature is a Stygian pit of bad ideas.
So, naturally, Florida voters in 2016 chose to give all of those people drugs.
In November, more than seven in ten Floridians at the polls checked yes on Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Considering Floridians would probably split 50-50 if asked whether they’d like a free delicious cupcake, that’s an amazing result.
Florida’s United for Care campaign spent two full election cycles — 2014 and 2016 — drafting, fighting, and pushing Floridians to legalize medicinal cannabis for demonstrably sick people. Last year, 72 percent of Floridians voted to amend the state constitution to legalize medical weed for people with diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Now it’s up to the Florida Legislature to adopt medical marijuana rules.
Yesterday, Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues finally unveiled the first medical weed regulations — and they would ban people from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Patients would also be prohibited from vaporizing weed if they aren’t terminally ill.
Trying to pass marijuana legislation in Texas “is akin to trying to clean the Statue of Liberty by licking it,” State Representative Harold Dutton (D-Houston) said in a recent interview with Houston NORML.
Sure, it’s no doubt been tough. But after four more states legalized recreational marijuana on November 8, might Texas be a little more inclined to at least take more baby steps?
Dutton is hoping the answer is yes. Last week, lawmakers filed several key marijuana-reform bills or proposals in the Legislature, ranging from a proposal allowing Texas voters to decide whether weed should be legalized to various bills that decriminalize possessing an ounce or less.
If the latest crop of polls is correct, medical marijuana will be legally available to sick people in Florida tomorrow. As of late October, close to 80 percent of Floridians supported Amendment 2, which would legalize weed statewide for medical purposes, such as helping cancer or Alzheimer’s patients. Sixty percent of the electorate needs to approve the measure for it to pass.
But even assuming it passes, many Florida residents might need to travel pretty far to get their hands on medicinal cannabis. That’s because multiple cities are already gearing up to pass six-month “moratoriums” on medical marijuana — including Miami Beach.
Attitudes toward medical marijuana are shifting as more states pass laws recognizing it as a form of treatment — not a way to get high. But as Floridians gear up this November to vote on a constitutional amendment that would legalize curative cannabis, it seems that the City of Wilton Manors is scheming to keep it out.
A new ordinance that will go through its first reading at tonight’s commission meeting will place heavy restrictions on business owners looking to obtain a medical marijuana permit. If passed, it will impose a 1,000-foot buffer around daycares, churches, rehab facilities, and schools — leaving only a sliver of available property on the outskirts of town.
Florida’s anti-pot lobby is back. And just like in 2014, it’s spreading straight-up lies about medical marijuana to try to frighten voters. Two years ago, Amendment 2 netted 58 percent of the vote — just short of the 60 percent it needed to pass.
That result likely had something to do with Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s scare campaign to shut the amendment down: Adelson spent more than $5 million to help fund the Drug Free Florida Committee, an anti-pot political action committee and PR campaign.
Now, with another medical marijuana amendment on the ballot this November, the Drug Free Florida Committee is back, but minus Adelson’s largesse so far. This time, Mel Sembler, a former U.S. ambassador and major Mitt Romney donor, is the money man behind the push.
Last week, Drug Free Florida sent New Times one of its first mass mailers — and it is extremely silly. The list, titled “The Top 10 Reasons to Vote NO on Amendment 2,” is chockfull of factual inaccuracies and half-truths straight out of the film Reefer Madness.
Democrats have adopted a platform that their members are trumpeting as the “most progressive platform in party history” — and when it comes to marijuana, Dems aren’t just blowing smoke. The Party of the Donkey has taken a position on marijuana that no major political party in the United States has taken before.
Dear Stoner: I’m going to Vegas in October and wonder if I can use my Colorado medical card to pick up a little medicine while I’m there.
Dear Rich: Nevada is one of the few medical marijuana states with a reciprocity law that allows out-of-state patients to possess and purchase cannabis while they’re visiting. Although the state might not have as many dispensaries or options as you’ll find in Colorado, Nevada has become a haven for patients coming from states with more restrictive regulations — and those coming from states with no MMJ. A February article in the Las Vegas Sun detailed how pre-screened tourists with a valid California ID or U.S. passport boarded a California-bound bus in Vegas and were connected with a doctor, who evaluated the tourists for a California medical card. If the tourists were approved, a medical marijuana recommendation was printed on the bus in Vegas, where the new patients were then free to visit dispensaries and carry and consume cannabis.