- Published: Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:54
- Written by David McKinney
If you use marijuana, you could go to jail. Odds are, you will have an enjoyable evening with your friends, relaxing with a little bit of cannabis; but you could go to jail. You may be curing yourself of a terrible disease with a plant from your backyard, but you could go to jail. Cannabis is illegal -- in Florida. As an alumnus of the U (we called it UM back then), I am proud to see that Miami recently passed a $100 fine for the possession of cannabis. Paying $100 beats going to jail or court, or even a PO's pee cup. A good start for sure, but there are other ways to gain revenue from something people are going to do anyway.
The US Declaration of Independence speaks to unalienable rights. The Bill of Rights serves as a testament to exactly how free a people we chose to be in that moment. While we cannot ignore the gradual infringement and erosion of those enumerated Constitutional rights, other rights that many deem unalienable have been arbitrarily denied to the people. In particular, if the Founding Fathers had realized that we would prohibit their beloved cannabis plant then the right would have been enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
Floridians for Freedom (www.FloridaFreedomGroup.com) understands that whether we are talking about medical use, research or otherwise responsible adult use of cannabis, prohibition is the problem that obstructs our liberty and perverts our justice system. We are a group of tenured activists with decades of combined experience in working to update the laws concerning cannabis in Florida, in order to formalize what so many are already saying and doing. By careful deliberation, we agreed that the best approach today is to start with a Constitutional Amendment, and let the voters decide whether adults have the right to cannabis.
Our one-page Florida Constitutional Amendment petition, if approved by the people, will remove criminal penalties for possession, cultivation and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older. It opens the door and provides cover for lawmakers to create sensible policies that protect public safety and could generate considerable revenue.
We are proposing this amendment to take back our fundamental right to heal ourselves. This amendment guarantees the rights of otherwise responsible adults to have, use, and grow cannabis on their private property. For patients, it provides the freedom to choose and the right to use cannabis as a first option in their treatment. Treating oneself is a fundamental human right. Cannabis belongs to all of us. Our brains and body have receptors for cannabinoids -- the active ingredients in the plant. Nature gave us a cure for every ailment, and everyone has a right to use what nature has given us.
The Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution assure the people and the states that, even though the Bill of Rights could not encompass everything we have the right to do, those rights that we retain as people and states still exist. Communities like Miami-Dade, Key West, Palm Beach, Hallandale Beach and others have made it clear that they want no part in enforcing laws against cannabis. We believe that the simple answer is to define our right to cannabis in the Florida Constitution and to leave it up to the Legislature to regulate the lucrative commerce in cannabis. The lobbyists are already in Tallahassee.
In 5 states and the District of Columbia, voters made cannabis legal for adults. The programs are a huge success where they are being implemented in earnest. Colorado businesses are making a mint and paying a mint in taxes. In Florida, the medical marijuana ballot initiative failed to pass, but with a majority voting for it. It failed, in part, because regulation does not belong in the Constitution. Once passed, It cannot be modified by the Legislature, regardless of need. However, the Legislature has made it clear that they have no business going against federal law to create sensible, modern policies. If we put the right to cannabis in the Florida Constitution, we are protecting our justice system from abuse and protecting our citizens from the miscarriage of justice.