Former Florida Governor and Currently Running To Be Florida Governor Again, Charlie Crist, says that the movement to legalize marijuana is "an issue of compassion."
Crist appeared on WJCT radio this week to talk up his running for office when host Melissa Ross asked him about the push to have medical marijuana appear on the ballot next to his and Scott's names come November.
"This is an issue of compassion," Crist said.
"You have people who feel that if there are people who are suffering through pain or lack of appetite," he said, "and you have a real doctor who prescribes medical marijuana, then I don't know why you would really be opposed to it, and so I'm not opposed to it."
As Florida's Republican governor, Crist was vehemently anti-marijuana, signing the Florida Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act into law, which became one of the most stringent bills against growing weed in the entire country.
Since then, however, Crist has reversed course and even aligned himself with attorney John Morgan, a long-time Crist financial backer who has been on the frontline of the pro-medical marijuana movement. Morgan has thrown a lot of weight and a lot of money at getting medical marijuana on the ballot in 2014.
Through his radio interview, Crist seems to be walking the fine line, making sure that he supports the legalization of medical marijuana as something that is strictly prescribed by a doctor.
But the "compassion" angle is really what stands out.
In March, Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens introduced a bill that would allow patients with certain qualifying medical conditions to privately and legally possess medical marijuana. He too brought up compassion in an interview with New Times.
"When a patient comes into your office and tells you all the meds that they're taking don't work, don't relieve their suffering, but marijuana does," Clemens said, "it's hard to look at that person in the eye and not do something about it. It's about compassion."
The bill was shot down by the Legislature, but Clemens echoed the sentiment of what most Floridians, -- and now, it would seem, Crist -- are thinking.
The latest polling says that 80 percent of Floridians favor the legalization of medical marijuana.
You can listen to Charlie Crist's interview with Melissa Ross here.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.