|Steve Cannon/USA Today|
|I love this woman. Florida state Sen. Larcenia Bullard: “I’m going to support this as long as I’m in office”|
The cause of medical marijuana legalization has something of an unlikely public face in Florida: Larcenia Bullard, a 64-year-old former schoolteacher who is now a state senator.
If you’d told Bullard 35 years ago — back when she was teaching kids for a living — that she’d one day be the most prominent marijuana advocate in the state, she probably would have sent you to the principal’s office, reports Tim Elfrink at Miami New Times.
“I would not have possibly imagined that to be true,” Bullard said with a laugh. “It was not an issue I’d given two thoughts to before.”
But Bullard, a Democrat who spent last year lugging an oxygen cart around the state capitol at Tallahassee because of her heart problems, has become the unlikely hero of the Sunshine State’s growing cannabis movement, New Times reports.
When she sponsored a bill last week that would give Florida’s voters a chance to have their say on legalizing medical marijuana, her phone lit up with overwhelming support from across the state. It’s the first time in three decades that marijuana reform bills have been filed in both the state House and the Senate.
|Sen. Larcenia Bullard: “At least I can open the door to a discussion”|
”I’ve been shocked at the number of people calling and promising to come to the capitol to talk about how medical cannabis has helped them,” Bullard said.
Senator Bullard said her support for medical marijuana was sparked both by her mother’s death with Alzheimer’s this past may, and her own serious illness. She was first elected to represent south Dade and Monroe counties in the Senate in 2002 after a decade in the state House.
As she convalesced at home due to her heart problems, she read up on marijuana’s benefits to Alzheimer’s patients.
“For patients like my mother, whose only options are medicines with intolerable side effects or diseases which take away their ability to live, cannabis can really help,” she said.
She has no illusions about support coming from most of the Republicans who control the Florida Legislature, but she’s not about to back down.
“At least I can open the door to a discussion,” she said. “I’m going to support this as long as I’m in office.”