Florida: Medical Marijuana Rumble Between the State Legislature and the Voters

Florida lawmakers are spinning their wheels once again in hopes of creating a functional medical marijuana program in the next legislative session. Republican State Representative Greg Steube refilled a piece of legislation last week aimed at putting the state’s idle Charlotte’s Web law out of its misery by establishing a new, equally hollow program that would do very little to serve the patients of the Sunshine state.

The latest proposal doomed to suffer the wrath of Florida’s skittish State Legislature would undoubtedly strengthen the current medical marijuana directive, mostly because the law, regardless of its passing two years ago, has not yet managed to help a single patient. However, Steube has swooped in with what he believes could be salvation’s wings for the state’s remedial approach to operating a medical marijuana market by increasing the number of cultivation operations, as well as expanding the list of qualified conditions past only those suffering from cancer and seizure disorders.

Steube’s bill would open the program up to patients with HIV/AID, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and any terminal illness. Much like the current law, however, it would not allow patients to smoke marijuana.

Without a doubt, this relatively new legislation would be an upgrade to the current regulatory model, which at this point, resembles the inbred love child between the cartel-like principles currently being proposed several states north by ResponsibleOhio and the old school prohibitionary philosophies that have kept officials scared for years that THC will cause undesirables to rise up and take over the nation. Somewhere in between is where Florida now stands in regards to offering sick and terminally ill patients effective relief through the Big Mac of non-intoxicating cannabis oil – Charlotte’s Web.

Steube’s recent concept for how medical marijuana should look in Florida, which is somewhat weaker legislation than what was tossed in the garbage earlier this year by the State Legislature, is an attempt to cut the marijuana advocacy group United for Care off at the pass in their rematch to pass an initiative to legalize a full-scale medical marijuana market next year. Steube argues that while he does not expect supporters with United for Care to abandon ship on their initiative, he believes decisions pertaining to the legalization of marijuana belongs in the state legislature.

Yet, considering the myriad of issues that have popped up over the past couple of years in regards to the current medical marijuana law, which has resulted in a number of lawsuits, it has become readily apparent that state lawmakers cannot pull their heads out of the assess of white capitalists long enough to properly regulate a progressive industry.

It is exactly for that reason that United for Care, a group that re-launched a campaign in June aimed at legalizing medical marijuana statewide is still running hot in its effort to earn a spot on the ballot in the 2016 election. If you remember, United for Care’s Amendment 2 barely missed the mark in 2014 when it received 58 percent of the votes – needing at least 60 percent to become law.

However, this time around, the organization, which is being lead into battle by Orlando attorney John Morgan, is way ahead of the game. United for Care has reportedly managed to collect half the 600,000 signatures needed to put the issue up to the voters next year, which is nearly double what they had collected a year prior to last year’s election. Although the group admits that they did not necessarily want to take the issue to the ballot again in 2016, the unwillingness of the state legislature to deal with the issue in house has given them no choice.

Steube believes that with the current Charlotte’s’ Web law in place, his proposal has a chance of going the distance in 2016. However, supporters with United for Care argue that while the Republican lawmaker has been “great on the issue,” the legislature has proven that it is not going to move on the subject of marijuana reform unless they are “forced.”


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