They say the worst things tend to happen in Florida. Whether or not that’s true, it’s definitely a really bad time to be a cannabis lover in the Sunshine State. Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill that bans smoking weed. Ouch!
This is only one year after 72 percent of voters passed Amendment 2 to legalize medical weed. While cannabis had been approved for patients with “debilitating diseases” like AIDs and cancer, now it’s in danger. Not surprisingly, Republicans led the anti-weed legislation change.
Cannabis advocates are calling the new bill “fatally flawed.” HB 1397 passed by a 105-9 margin and has tons of crazy new rules attached. So what does this mean for weed smokers down south?
What HB 1397 Means for Florida
Why is HB 1397 so bad for Floridians? First of all, the original version of the bill banned all forms of weed. This includes smokable bud, edibles, and vaping. It was only after advocates spoke out that the House amended the bill so “qualifying patients” could use edibles and vaporizers.
“Don’t get me wrong, they made significant improvements, because even the second and third versions of the bill kept getting worse,” pro-weed policy director, Ben Pollara, told Miami New Times. “But this is still a fatally flawed piece of legislation.”
Doctors in Florida now have to give medical cannabis patients “formal prescriptions” instead of “recommendations.” This puts docs at serious risk of losing their license. After all, weed is still illegal under federal law. So fewer doctors are now going to prescribe weed the people who really need it. Pollara warns that going forward, “only the scummiest pill mill docs” will do it.
“It’s willful ignorance,” he says. “It’s not ignorance in the absence of facts. This is the single biggest thing we pressed the House leadership on. It’s the core of the law.”
Not to mention, the new bill will allow even fewer weed farmers to grow legally. So far only seven licenses have been handed out. This is bad, because now the license holders can team up and work as a “legal pot cartel.”
How You Can Fight Back
The bill that bans weed is currently headed to the Florida Senate, where cannabis advocates hope it will be revised in their favor. Pollara is optimistic that the Senate will be more reasonable than the House, but time is running out on the 60-day legislative session.
If weed is harder to get in Florida, more local patients who desperately need it will be S.O.L. Luckily there are ways to speak out and fight back. If you live in the Sunshine State, be an informed voter and do your public duty. Choose candidates who are pro-cannabis and pro-legalization, and campaign hard for them.
Join or donate time and money to pro-cannabis groups like Florida Cannabis Action Network and the Marijuana Policy Project. Stay up to date on what’s going on in the House and Senate, and don’t be afraid to call your local representatives. Speak out against the new bill that bans weed in Florida.
Offer education and information on the many benefits of weed at town hall meetings, in local newspaper op-eds, and other public forums. Talk to your friends and family about why it’s so important that weed is legal. And remember, you’re not alone, and so keep up the good fight!