Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Medical marijuana advocates flexing political muscle in Florida

My class this week in my marijuana seminar is focused particularly on medical marijuana law, policy and reform, and a focal point for discussion will be exploring the best reasons and arguments that can be made by policy advocates and politicians for being actively and vocally opposed to medical marijuana reforms.  In light of that coming discussion, this new Politico article reporting on developments in Florida highlights a strategic reasons why politicians might not in the future want to be an active and vocal opponent of medical marijuana reforms.  The piece is headlined "Pot lobby vows to blunt Wasserman Schultz: She angered medical marijuana advocates by opposing a voter initiative last year," and here are excerpts:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interest in running for U.S. Senate has encountered strong resistance from a traditional ally of her party: medical marijuana activists.

Because of her congressional votes and her criticisms of a Florida medical marijuana initiative last year, four political groups that advocate prescription cannabis and drug decriminalization vowed to campaign against the Florida representative if she were to seek a Senate seat in 2016.

“She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that — not to mince words,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance, which has received funding from liberal luminaries such as George Soros. “This issue is evolving very quickly, and hopefully she will evolve,” Piper said. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”...

The founder and executive director of Americans for Safe Access, Steph Sherer, said her group will likely become politically active in the election if Wasserman Schultz runs. “She has a horrific voting record and people should know about it” Sherer said. “But she still has time to become enlightened.”...

Florida’s medical marijuana proposal last year garnered 57.6 percent of the vote, short of the 60 percent threshold required to approve a constitutional amendment in Florida. Morgan’s group is already gathering voter signatures and plans to try again in 2016, unless the GOP-led Legislature acts, which it likely won’t. “This will be a major campaign issue and I think disqualifies her from the nomination,” Morgan said by email, comparing the issue to gay marriage, which is far less popular in polls.

“A United States senator from the Democratic Party should be in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana as a base test. Debbie is more severe,” he said. “Her position denies terminally ill and chronically ill people compassion. She was an anomaly among [Democrats]. The war on drugs was lost about the same time we lost the Vietnam War. Generations have been arrested, jailed and careers and dreams lost forever.”

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2015/02/medical-marijuana-advocates-flexing-political-muscle-in-florida.html

Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Who decides | Permalink

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