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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

      Lovers of liberty and supporters of competitive markets have cause for celebration this month as the reins of freedom are being returned to the hands of the people of the State of Florida.  The criminalization of cannabis has, for too long, caused the suffering of our citizens.  Seriously ill patients have been prevented from alleviating their own pain and administering their own life-sustaining treatments.  Responsible adults have been infantilized into begging permission simply to possess a plant.  

      The plant is one so innocuous, so fundamental to the foundations of our democracy that it was used to make the very paper that our country’s Declaration of Independence was drafted on and even grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  This month Floridians for Freedom, a political action committee of which I am a part, announced its sponsorship of an initiative entitled “The Right of Adults to Cannabis.” This amendment to the Constitution of the State of Florida will guarantee responsible adults the right under state law to possess, use, and grow cannabis on their private property without fear of state governmental interference.

As part of the team that created Floridians for Freedom, I assure you, we’ve thought long and hard about the best path to legal cannabis for responsible adults.  For twenty years our members have fought tirelessly to change unjust cannabis laws.  We have, simply, waited long enough for incremental change.  After 20 years of effort, only a handful of people are permitted to legally use and possess cannabis in Florida.  Even fewer are permitted to grow cannabis.  Our amendment allows patients to treat themselves by putting a seed in the ground without violating state law.  This kind of common sense approach to cannabis decriminalization will make it less expensive and safer to develop effective cannabis therapies.

      To quote Stan Lee, Floridians for Freedom recognizes that “with great power comes great responsibility.”  As Floridians take back the power to treat themselves and to make reasonable adult decisions, we also have the responsibility of ensuring that legalization does not jeopardize the health and safety of our community.  Our proposed amendment credits our state lawmakers with the ability to effectuate these goals and tailor legislation that will respect our individual rights while ensuring essential safeguards are met.  Under this Amendment minors still will not have access to the plant and regulations protecting public safety, such as driving while impaired, will not be repealed.  Yet the amendment creates a powerful barrier to governmental overreach.  

       This amendment also approaches the commercial sale of cannabis with a respect for free market principles.  There are no artificial impediments written into this amendment to protect the business interests of a wealthy few.  By ending prohibition and permitting reasonable legislative regulation, small businesses will be able to enter the commercial market on equal footing and local governments will be able to tailor rulemaking to the actual health and safety needs of their communities.  

      This amendment is an important step forward not only for those with an affinity for the plant, but for those of us who believe in the fundamental tenets upon which our country was founded, liberty and justice for all.  Floridians have suffered long enough being denied access to this plant.  We ask Floridians to accept the mantle of responsibility thrust upon them by our federalist system and sign the petition to protect the right of adults to cannabis in Florida.


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