Medical Marijuana in Florida : Improving the health of liberty


In the November election of 2016, Florida voters catapulted the approval and implementation of medical marijuana into our state constitution. Almost 72% of the voters approved the use of medical marijuana in Florida despite the federal prohibition on marijuana for any use.

If not for the passage of this amendment, medical marijuana use in Florida would probably have not evolved any time soon beyond the  current “Charlotte’s Web” law. That bill (SB 1030) permitted some patients to use a strain of marijuana that is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but high in cannabidiol (CBD). This strain is known to reduce life threatening seizures suffered by children with a rare form of epilepsy. Rick Scott signed the bill into law despite this protocol not being recognized by the FDA. This law addressed two conservative concerns—CBD doesn’t make the user high, and “it’s for the children.”

Florida’s government is reluctant for the most part to run afoul of the federals. The federal government supplies 35% of the state’s budget dollars. Left to their own devices, the Florida legislature would never have moved forward on the expanded use of marijuana for medical purposes. Indeed, their inability to formulate the mandated implementation legislation in the 2017 regular session is seen by many as a move to frustrate the will of the people.

House majority leader, Ray Rodrigues, titular author of the House medical marijuana bill freely admits he did not vote yes on Amendment 2.  Rodrigues’ bill HB 1397 was and remains criticized as being crafted with biased influence from the Drug Free America Foundation and their lobbying division, Save Our Society from Drugs, funded by wealthy developer and Republican donor Mel Sembler. With Governor Rick Scott’s call for a special session, medical marijuana supporters are hopeful their cause will appear on the special session agenda.

This drama will play out as it will.

A more important point has already been established.

Amendment 2 was passed because Florida’s voters believe in the merit of marijuana as medicine.  That is fine by itself. What isn’t being talked about, and it’s due in part because even the voters don’t realize what they have done in passing Amendment 2.  Ignorant of this or not, Florida voters have enshrined non-compliance with federal prohibitions into our state constitution. True, it is only for one item but the ice has cracked, the dam has a leak, the river has been forded and there is no going back.

This is significant. For one thing, legislators can no longer tell their liberty minded constituents “Federal law is supreme and there is nothing we can do.” The voters took away this excuse. “Nullification is illegal,” a message received in an email from no less than Richard Corcoran himself prior to his assuming Speakership, no longer holds any water.  The voters took away this excuse too. Perhaps best of all, the excuse that “The Civil War decided who is superior once and for all,” the position held by former Florida state senator Don Gaetz, who also said that he agreed with the sentiment attributed to Andrew Jackson when Jackson is said to have proclaimed he would “hang all the nullifiers” is history. Well, Senator Gaetz, do you plan on hanging 72% of the voters?

Thanks to Amendment 2 it can no longer be written in Florida stone that the federal government is supreme and the people cannot invalidate federal laws that are in violation of the Constitution.

Even with A2 passed and some form of regulatory implementation from the legislature, or the Department of Health, medical marijuana still has one more step needed to close the loop. Donald Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions is not a supporter of medical marijuana and may seek selected enforcement against some or all of the medical marijuana states. Our legislature is bound by our state constitution and must protect the supply chain and the end user. While it would be a giant pill to swallow for them, the legislature must write one more chapter to  the medical marijuana saga.

The legislature must enact legislation prohibiting any state officer, any sheriff, any police department and any and all law enforcement in Florida, including judges from assisting the federals in enforcing legal action against anyone in the medical marijuana business, prescribing doctors and their patients. This means no sharing of intelligence, no use of jails, no muscle in the form of SWAT teams, no warrants, nothing! Not one list of licensed, prescribing doctors or patients. NOTHING!

Without this last step it will be impossible to have confidence that federal pressure will not cause our legislators and the governor to cave and find some way to convene an over throw of Amendment 2. Medical marijuana is already improving the health of liberty in Florida. It will be up to us to continue to improve that health and to make sure our elected officials don’t cause a relapse.