The fight for medical marijuana in Florida is at an all-time high. Things are not getting better, because our government is broken. And there is no clearer example of our broken government, than this issue.
In 2016, 72 percent of Floridians voted to approve amendment 2, which allowed the use of medical marijuana. Despite this overwhelming mandate from the voters, Governor Scott and the Republican legislature have repeatedly obstructed its implementation. In doing so, they are denying sick and suffering Floridians access to medicine – including our seniors, veterans and chronically ill. I am running as Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services commissioner, because as a 15-year attorney I believe Floridians need someone who can come in and finally put the consumers first.
The fight for medical marijuana however, is not new. In the 70s, the start of the medical marijuana movement began thanks to a court ruling in favor of a plaintiff by the name of Robert Randall. Randall was treating his glaucoma with marijuana and stated in court that this was a necessity for him. He was one of the first pioneers of the medical marijuana movement because the court agreed with the treatment. Randall immediately became the first person to now have access to marijuana, in the medical and legal sense. The struggles Randall faced during this case though, had launched a movement across the nation.
In 1978, despite winning his case years before, the federal government tried to end Randall’s use of medical marijuana. Not only did Randall sue to continue using medical marijuana, but since he won the federal government had created a new program to show compassion to him. The federal government created an entity that allowed him to gain access to a non-approved drug.
The Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program, paved the way for Randall to continue being an advocate for people with AIDS. In the 1990s, Randall focused solely on the therapeutic effects that marijuana has on people who suffer from AIDS. The program, Marijuana Aids Research Service, or MARS, granted AIDS patients to now access medical marijuana under the IND program that was established originally for Randall. Again, the government failed the people suffering and only allowed a select number of patients to have access to marijuana legally. However, Randall never stopped fighting for the access of medical marijuana for all those who desired it, as well as continued to help be a voice for people with AIDS.
Unfortunately, in 2018, with our knowledge and research on AIDS, the court case ruling in favor to Randall, and having a movement continue to spread throughout the nation; Floridians are still electing officials who silence the voters. Additionally, I know this fight is much larger than me. This nation, Florida specifically, needs to elect people with strong leadership skills that have a vision to make real change. Even so, this leader must tackle all issues and fight for the citizens in our state. In regard to traditional Agriculture, you do not need to be from Agriculture to fight for the people’s interests.
More importantly, when you elect someone to Congress, you do not vote for them because they have experience in all aspects of Washington, D.C. You vote for them because you believe in them, what they stand for, to pass good policies, fight for the people and to surround themselves with policy experts. I have seen first-hand the injustice of the criminal justice system as a past Public Defender.
For the last 5 years I have walked the halls of Tallahassee fighting for public education, foster care kids and Medical Marijuana. I vow to fix the clemency process because it’s broken. Floridians need a proven leader, who can get the job done, know how to work the politics and will bring people together to change policy.
As your next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, I will be a fierce advocate for the agriculture and consumer services components as well as the issue of patient access to medical marijuana. It will be one of the top priorities of my administration to end the obstruction and ensure the people of Florida have access to the medicine prescribed by their doctors.