Opinion

Florida legalizes medical marijuana

By |
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Florida,Marijuana,Medical Marijuana,Debbie Wasserman Schultz,Sheldon Adelson,Rick Scott,Kevin Daley

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana on Monday, after it easily passed the state legislature last month. The bill is colloquially referred to as "Charlotte's Web."

"The approval of Charlotte's Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life," Scott, a Republican, said in a prepared statement after signing the legislation. The bill authorizes a low-THC, non-euphoric strain of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions like childhood epilepsy.

Florida now joins 22 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. The bill overwhelmingly passed both houses of the Florida Legislature, passing 111-7 in the House and 30-9 in the Senate. Republicans hold significant majorities in each chamber.

Later this year, Florida voters will weigh a more expansive medical marijuana measure, Amendment 2, which expands the forms of medical marijuana doctors may prescribe and increases the number of individuals who qualify for such a prescription. Scott opposes passage of Amendment 2 and drew support from casino magnate and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who donated $2.5 million to the Drug Free Florida Committee to defeat the referendum.

However, prominent Democrats have also voiced opposition to Amendment 2, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told the Tampa Bay Times: "I have concerns that it is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials." She also voted against the Farr-Rohrabacher amendment last month, a measure prohibiting the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

That ultraconservative Adelson and Democrat stalwart Wasserman Schultz both oppose the same amendment underscores the complicated politics of medical marijuana. Though medical marijuana remains illegal in Republican bastions throughout the South and Midwest, some deeply conservative states like Alaska and Montana have permitted its use for more than 10 years.

Similarly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has only recently voiced support for medical or decriminalized marijuana in deep blue New York, where both remain illegal.

Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell told the Huffington Post the issue transcends traditional political coalitions. "Polls show overwhelming voter support for medical marijuana across the board, from all parts of the political spectrum."

View article comments Leave a comment

More from washingtonexaminer.com