Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow patients with certain qualifying medical conditions to privately and legally possess medical marijuana.
The bill, named after Florida Cannabis Action Network President and ALS patient Cathy Jordan, would allow patients to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to eight marijuana plants.
-Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Florida
"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 tells New Times, "it's hard to look at that person in the eye and not do something about it."
Clemens made history in 2010 when he introduced the first medical marijuana bill in Florida.
It was, of course, quickly shot down by the Florida Legislature.
Clemens doesn't blame anyone or hold grudges. He knew from the get-go that passing this bill would be an uphill, four- to six-year battle.
Clemens simply wanted to put something out there, to get a feel on what and how the decision makers in Tallahassee would react and, ultimately, what it would take to push this thing through.
"We wanted to establish a framework," he says, "and then devise a bill around what changes to the law would have to be made, what kind of ailments one had to have to be allowed to have medical marijuana."
As for this latest bill, Clemens remains optimistic.
With Plantation Democrat Kathy Edwards co-sponsoring the bill in the House, the feeling is people are coming around.
"The problem in the past was that people were afraid to go on record," he says. "But attitudes have changed. And maybe the fact that a poll says 70 percent of Floridian voters approve of medical marijuana, things can move forward."
On Monday, a day after the poll was released, Jordan, who is wheelchair-bound due to her battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, had her home raided by cops when a state worker, not even visiting Jordan's home, spotted marijuana plants on her property.
Jordan was diagnosed with ALS in 1986.
Clemens had named the bill after Jordan way before the raid occurred, but it's an unhappy coincidence that it went down just days before he introduced it.
Maybe the image of a wheelchair-stricken women being raided by authorities can turn into something positive, as far as the bill is concerned.
"This is a woman in a wheelchair simply looking to relieve her constant suffering who has tried medications that just don't work," a passionate Clemens says.
"This is about helping people. It's about compassion."
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.