With 81% of Americans supporting allowing medical marijuana, it is time Florida stops jailing its most vulnerable citizens for possessing and using a relatively harmless substance recommended to them by their physicians.
Although Florida courts, public opinion, and 16 other states (and D.C.) reflect a trend that recognizes the legitimate use of medical marijuana, Florida patients remain exposed to the state's harsh possession laws. Every single medical marijuana patient in Florida continues to live in fear because Florida's penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana are among the nations toughest.
Florida has a total state debt of approximately $139,156,956,000, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and the budget gap. So why not legalize the medical use of cannabis in order to generate revenue to help pay off Florida's debt. With California generating $50-100 million in sales tax annually, Florida, a state half the size be capable of generating $25-$50 million in sales tax?
Legalizing medical marijuana will also help clean up Florida's prisons, which currently are overflowing. First off, drug abuse is a medical problem, not a problem for our judicial system. Our government is wasting necessary resources and clogging our courts and prisons up with non-violent drug offenders instead of devoting said resources to tracking down the violent criminals who pose the real threat. We must make this change before Florida's prisons are converted to for-profit private prisons. These are our Brothers, Sisters, Sons, Daughters, Fathers, Mothers, Grandparents and friends that are being imprisoned and/or fined for possession of marijuana. We cannot allow such harsh penalties for such a harmless drug leave our loved ones vulnerable to becoming a profitable market for private prisons.
For the clinical applications of cannabis, please follow the link http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_Clinical_Applications_for_Cannabis_and_Cannabinoids.pdf
In summary, with public opinion, Florida’s need for revenue to pay off it’s massive debt, the over-crowding of Florida prisons, and the clinical applications of cannabis, being only the highlighted arguments for the many reasons for legalizing cannabis. Representative Ron Paul summarizes the argument up best:
"Regardless of where one stands on the broader drug war, we should all be able to agree on the subject of medical marijuana. Here, the use of an otherwise prohibited substance has been found to relieve unbearable suffering in countless patients. How can we fail to support liberty and individual responsibility in such a clear-cut case? What harm does it do to anyone else to allow fellow human beings in pain to find the relief they need? What kind of 'compassionate conservatism' is this?"
The only question left to ask is, why has Florida not passed this legislation already.
The proposal, HJR 353/SJR 1028, would have to first pass through both the House and the Senate in Florida. If this happens, a ballot question will be put before the people of Florida to add a medical marijuana provision to the state constitution. The ballot question would need to get 60% support in order to become law.