Florida state Rep. Ray Rodrigues is an ignorant scab for Florida medical marijuana patients looking to finally get some relief. He has been the problem since more than 71% of voters decided to legalize a broad medical marijuana law in 2016. He was one of the main influences that banned the smoking of medical marijuana flower and has done everything he could to slow the implementation of rules that would allow for the sale of cannabis infused edibles. He is indifferent to the democratic process and certainly does not care about Floridians.
His most recent move to try and impede patients access to the medical marijuana they so desperately want was to introduce a bill last week that would restrict THC levels in smokable medical cannabis to 10%. If Florida legislators were to pass this new bill, it would basically bankrupt the medical marijuana industry in Florida. It would cost the state massive amounts of money when law suit after law suit hits the state and judges decided that the new law is unconstitutional, just like they did when the ban on smoking was in place. Anyways, what would marijuana growers have to do to ensure the plants only had a 10% THC content? I have no idea.
The new Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who is also a conservative republican like Rodrigues, made eliminating the ban on smoking his top priority when he took office. While DeSantis is not a major supporter of legalized cannabis, he saw the mistake the Florida legislature was making nearly immediately. In other states, medical marijuana legislation as broad as what Floridians voted for if 2016 would allow registered medical marijuana patients the right to grow cannabis at home. Rordrigues and other opponents to cannabis legalization in Florida may have thought they were cleverly putting Floridians anger about not being able to grow marijuana at a home on a back burner by focusing their attention on the hair brained idea to ban smoking flower.
Not only is not clever for Florida lawmakers to impede the democratic process, it is almost assuring that a ballot initiative to legalize adult-use marijuana in Florida will be awaiting voters in 2020. Knowing now the game that legislators are likely to play with a recreational marijuana law, those that craft the bill will make sure they outline clearly all of the permissions of a legal adult-use market. What will Florida legislators do then? In the midterm elections, Amendment 4 passed allowing the roughly 1.5 million disenfranchised convicted felons that reside in Florida the right to vote again. While legislators are working to prevent these felons from voting next year, if they are permitted to vote that likely means that Florida will vote for more liberal issues including cannabis legalization.
According to Nikki Fried, the new agricultural commissioner in Florida, not many cannabis producers can grow marijuana with a 10% THC content or less. It means that growers would have to destroy a large portion of the the plants they grow. It adds too many costs and allows the illicit market to flourish. The majority of people in the United States accept the benefits of medical marijuana and believe that adult-use marijuana is not even close to as dangerous as the federal government has led them to believe. This means that more people are open to trying and continuously consuming cannabis. If illegal marijuana is readily available, which it always is, then consumers will purchase black market weed for the potency and more reasonable costs.
I might compare the myopic efforts of Rep. Rodrigues to stop the advancement of marijuana legalization to that of the former U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions. When sitting at the head of the Justice Department, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. The Obama era memo basically advised U.S. Attorneys around the country to leave state legal medical marijuana businesses alone despite the illegality of marijuana on the national level. When Sessions rescinded the memo, it put legislators like Sen. Cory Gardner into motion to construct something to replace the Cole Memo. We now have numerous bills floating around Congress that would open doors to a national marijuana market much more than the Cole Memo ever could have. Bills like The Marijuana Justice Act and the STATES Act are being talked about on every media outlet.
Rodrigues could well be triggering a domino reaction that could lead to voters putting in place a law that made Florida the most relaxed state in terms of marijuana reform in the country. Medical marijuana patients and adults in Florida seem determined to have access to marijuana edibles, smokable flower, concentrates, and the ability to grow their own marijuana at home. They could put marijuana lounges in Florida too which could bump up Florida’s already robust tourist industry. Before he knows it, Rodrigues could be living a nightmare he constructed all on his own. Laws in Florida make little sense in general. You have to wear your seat belt by law, but not wear a helmet when roaring down the highway on some crotch rocket at 150 mph. Florida’s medical marijuana laws are the least sensible of any of the 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis. Surprise surprise.