Nikki Fried: Florida Republicans declare war on medical marijuana

Republicans in the Florida legislature want to turn back the clock and renew the failed war on drugs — at least that’s what you’d think based on the bills filed this session.

House Bill 1455, put forward by Representative Roach (ironic, right?), declares war on Florida’s medical marijuana program and patients.

The legislation places a cap on THC levels in Florida medical marijuana products, limiting their impact and forcing patients to purchase higher quantities in order to get the same level of treatment. Because THC is a key component for relief that millions rely on, attempts to limit it will hurt patients — literally.

To be blunt: a limit on THC is an assault on our Constitution, our liberty, and our state’s medical marijuana program, which helps over 500,000 patients access relief they need on a daily basis.

This would create a new tax on patients, leading to higher costs by requiring them to spend more money to obtain the level of relief they need to live comfortably without pain. Restrictions like this would cause many to look to the illegal marijuana market to save money.

Nothing about this bill, from its changes that limit access to medical marijuana to the arguments used to support it, is founded on facts. Supporters claim that if Florida’s medical marijuana program isn’t reformed, we’ll see another opioid crisis.

These are toxic lies that only further the mentality behind the failed war on drugs that has irreparably damaged our nation and disproportionately hurt communities of color.

Prohibition came and went on alcohol, and it’s time to do the same on cannabis. Marijuana is medicine. It’s helped relieve the suffering of millions of Americans — and here in Florida, people have recognized that.

If we look to the science, there is no evidence that higher THC levels in cannabis lead to adverse health impacts. Just like any medication, medical marijuana should be available in a variety of strengths to treat the wide range of illnesses impacting patients.

Five years after 71% of Floridians, a huge bipartisan margin, voted for medical marijuana, so-called Constitution-loving Republicans are still trying to undue our votes. They’re pushing a false narrative to undermine the people’s choice to make medical marijuana a Constitutional right in the Sunshine State. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone — the legislature has repeatedly blocked the will of the voters on constitutional ballot amendments.

While states like New York and Virginia are legalizing marijuana, Florida’s Republican legislators are trying to move us backwards. The people have spoken on this. But once again, our lawmakers aren’t listening. They should be improving our marijuana program, working on decriminalization, and moving towards legalization for adult use.

This is exactly what’s wrong with Tallahassee — and it’s one of the reasons I ran for office in the first place. So stand with me and medical marijuana patients, and let’s fight this. Before it heads to the House Floor for a vote, make your voice heard and tell Florida legislators that you’re against HB 1455.

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