Marijuana (Cannabis) News – 420 in 5 dayz!
Monday, April 15, 2013
Where is Florida at Right Now?
To those who have taken the time this legislative session to send an e-mail or make a phone call, I cannot thank you enough. Being so close to the process, spending every day in Tallahassee listening to the lawmakers, it is easy to see how much of a difference you are making. Lawmakers are getting the message loud and clear. Incoming Speaker Crisafulli assures me that reforming cannabis policy is a conversation happening at the highest level of Florida government.
The legislative process is slow and cumbersome. Just like it takes time to change the direction of a great ship; so it is with the moving the great state of Florida. I have come to believe this group of elected officials in Tallahassee is ready to right the wrongs of their predecessors, but it is a slow going. Nowhere is the law of unintended consequences more strongly felt then in cannabis policies; and many of our lawmakers get it. Where the intent may have been to protect the most vulnerable; the reality is those who could most use access to cannabis are made fodder for the criminal justice system.
Florida CAN has made the case for sensible reforms before the decision makers in our state. We have brought an incredible cast of characters to Tallahassee to speak on your behalf– and we are not done yet! This week, The Black Tuna Robert Platshorn, host of “Should Grandma Smoke Pot?” is joining me for a day at the Capitol.
Over the past weeks we have introduced lawmakers to senior citizens Cathy Jordan, Bob Jordan, John Chase, and Frank Dougherty. Most people have heard the story of Cathy Jordan, but few recognize the sacrifice Bob made in Vietnam. In March, Bob and Frank spent several days walking point for veterans in Florida. Florida is home to 1.6 million veterans. The VA – the only federal agency that practices medicine – has a directive allowing the use of cannabis where lawful under state statutes. John Chase of Pinellas has studied the harms of alcohol prohibition and used his time in Tallahassee to talk about the harms associated with this policy of prohibition.
Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition joined FLCAN staff at the Capitol March 19th. Neill was on a two-week tour of Florida speaking about the unintended consequences of prohibition. Also representing sensible cannabis policies in Tallahassee that week was Ethel Rowland – woman of many hats; Jeff Borg – ACLU Board of Directors and Eric Stevens – FLCAN’s legislative liaison. Ethel and Eric bring great drug policy credentials to the table. Eric, a south Florida activist, was trained by American’s for Safe Access to advocate for cannabis reform. Ethel is a seasoned activist artist who uses her time and talent to expose the consequences of prohibition.
When we asked supporters to reach out to Representative Roberson, Chair of the House Quality Sub-Committee, more than a 1,000 of our supporters responded. Though he ultimately ran out of time for the workshop, when we cornered Representative Roberson he said if he had done a workshop on the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act” that would have been the only thing reported that day. While it works for me, apparently, what Representative Roberson is doing was bigger than our need for safe, legal access to cannabis without fear of a jail cell.
This past week, we asked you to write Senator Bean and encourage his committee to host a workshop to hear expert testimony on therapeutic access to cannabis. The Senator was on board to workshop the bill when President of the Senate, Don Gaetz, – Republican from Niceville, added a number of bills to the committee, putting ours off the agenda!
What did Don Gaetz think is more important than making sure people who may lose their life or their senses have access to cannabis? One bill making its way through the legislature deals with what color you can dye baby chicks at Easter.
Last week was a tipping point in the minds of many Florida lawmakers. Irv Rosenfeld, one of four surviving patients who receive cannabis from the Federal Government joined Cathy Jordan and the FLCAN team in Tallahassee. Tony Clymer of the Silver Tour and NORML of Florida was part of our team walking door-to-door with Eric Stevens, Cathy Jordan, Irv Rosenfeld and myself.
With the prosecutor accepting Cathy has a medical need for cannabis even lawmakers are beginning to wonder how we can continue to give cannabis to one man, Irv and deny it to Cathy.
There are still rules that will allow the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act to go to the floor for a vote this year, but the changes are slim. Once in a while, the long shot wins and we all love to watch the story unfold.
Even as I write, several opportunities still exist for us to pass a bill this session that will allow safe access to cannabis before November of 2013. Patients out of time cannot wait another year for lawmakers to find the will or voters to pass a constitutional amendment; they need access now without fear of arrest. Rest assured, FLCAN will continue to explore every avenue available to assure that those you love have access to this plant.
We invite those who want to be sure we get access to therapeutic cannabis to do more than just wait for someone else to act. FLCAN has provided you with all the tools you need to pass a resolution of support in your home town or county. Passing resolutions of support in Florida puts pressure on the state to create safe access but it also puts pressure on the Federal Government to untie the hands of the states hesitant to step outside federal guidelines on cannabis.
FLCAN has one more opportunity to move decision makers into championing our cause. Friday, April 19, 2013 the Republican Party of Florida is hosting a walk to raise money for the cure to ALS – Lou Gehrig ’s disease. For three months, Cathy has been a living, breathing example of a patient who may have a key to the cure.
You can be part of the historic opportunity to energize leaders of the Republican Party to take the steps necessary to give patients access to cannabis now! They can remove the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act from its committees of reference and send it to the Floor. It requires the will of the President of the Senate and Speak of the House to happen- they will not do this if they think it is safe to ignore this issue.
If enough people come forward demanding access to cannabis there is one last tactic the leadership can use to grant us immunity from prosecution while we create a system that allows therapeutic access. Lawmakers can create a committee bill that will strike cannabis from section 893 of the Florida Statute.
Everyone who can read knows cannabis does not belong in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act. This is it, with only days to go, activate your phone tree, share our messages with friends and keep those calls and letters coming!
This year I’ve raised the battle cry from Key West to Pensacola- “No surrender, no retreat” we are right and the people need us to stay the course. Victory is ours….
Jodi James, Executive Director
FLCAN continues to fight the good fight. Will you dig deep and make a contribution today to assure we can be a leading voice in creating responsible cannabis policies for Florida?