I am delighted to report that more and more government officials are promoting sanity in pot laws. Cannabis crosses political parties and generational lines.
Good weed gets you high whether you think the last attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a Neanderthal or you think Beto O’Rourke should be the next Democratic presidential candidate, which I do.
I was right 50 years ago when I said as a Hofstra University college student on Hempstead, Long Island in New York in 1969 that pot should be legal. A half century later, I am still correct. Only the weed is a lot better.
Over the years, I have learned that if a man stands his ground, and there abides, the whole world will eventually come around to him. Today, in 2019, 65 percent of America and apparently 84 percent of Wilton Manors agrees with me.
The legitimate powers of government should reach no further than controlling acts which are injurious to others. Freedom means having the right to be stupid, whether your parents or partners approve or not.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Pot never should have been criminalized. Outside of making North Dakota a state, locking people up for smoking weed was one of the dumbest things our government has ever done.
In Florida, our new Commissioner of Agriculture is Nikki Fried, a Jewish woman and law graduate who will give new meaning to the High Holy Days. She supports the legalization of marijuana.
Nikki has said she will be appointing a statewide Director of Cannabis to her agency. Man, I have held that position my whole life. Weed makes everything better, from sex to food to reading SFGN.
More seriously, on the right side of the aisle, cannabis has found surprising supporters. Importantly, in Florida there are people like Congressman Matt Gaetz, a northwest Florida Republican who I would ordinarily have nothing in common with, outside of sports and fast cars.
However, Gaetz is amongst a cadre of Republicans, like the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, who have actively promoted a new direction for federal marijuana policy. Damn, it’s about time.
Congressman Gaetz has already partnered with newly elected and young Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York State, to revise the Neanderthal laws.
Last year, when Attorney General Sessions called for a crackdown on cannabis, Gaetz stated it was a “cruel plan that harms some of our most vulnerable fellow Americans. I have seen children who have been helped by medical marijuana when all other treatments have failed. Some have gone from surgeries and seizures to baseball games and homecoming dances.” He’s right.
Cathy Jordan has suffered from ALS since 1986. When I met her back then, she was given 3-5 years to live. Along with the power and love of her devoted husband, smoking medical marijuana has kept her alive.
When Elvy Mussika was acquitted of growing pot in her Hollywood backyard in 1988, she was nearly going blind from glaucoma. The THC in cannabis reduced the intraocular pressures in her eyes, and thirty years later, she can still see.
Right now, despite 32 states moving in an opposite direction, cannabis is still regulated as a “Schedule 1 drug.” This means that the regulated substance has “no medicinal value.” Come on, we all know better by now, especially all those bar and restaurant workers that hang out after work in the alleyway by the Alibi in the Manors.
Encouragingly, the new nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, also stated in his confirmation hearings yesterday that he would support a continuation of the Obama Era regulatory guidelines.
These rules allow those states that have invested in medicinal marijuana laws to continue to rely on the rules generated by previous attorney generals. This allows dispensaries operating in those states to continue to run their business without fear of being raided or shut down.
Florida residents also passed a constitutional amendment to provide for medical marijuana two years ago. The regulatory system is flawed, and Florida’s new governor has said he will fix it. Now would be a good time.
Unfortunately, the first week in office for Ron DeSantis presented no encouragement. His legal team went into the Court of Appeals and argued that the legislative ban on smoking marijuana be upheld. His actions make his campaign promise hollow.
A Leon County Circuit judge had previously struck down the smoking ban, but the decision was stayed after the State of Florida appealed. DeSantis could have made history by killing the appeal. He did not. He made the argument for maintaining it.
During the oral arguments last week in Tallahassee, an appellate panel of judges interrogated Florida officials about whether the legislature had not usurped the will of our citizens by using its political veto power to override an amendment its citizens overwhelmingly supported.
The Department of Health told the judges that since smoking causes cardiovascular and respiratory health problems, the Florida legislature could limit delivery methods to protect the public. I call BS on that.
It does not matter what side of the political aisle you are on, Americans have learned that cannabis is a cure, not a cancer. Let’s hope Ron DeSantis learns that as well.
Our citizens voted for smokable medical marijuana. A lawmaker in the state house should not make that choice. You should make the call, by yourself, with your partner, in your own house. Nothing less than your inalienable right to free choice is at stake.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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Author: Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors