Sen. Jeff Clemens and Rep. Joe Saunders introduced the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act Monday afternoon. The bill, named after Florida Cannabis Action Network President and ALS patient Cathy Jordan, is a more encompassing bill than the recently introduced Charlotte's Web bill, a bipartisan initiative.
Still, as Clemens pointed out in Monday's news conference introducing his and Saunders' initiative, both bills show that minds are changing and attitudes about medical marijuana are evolving, on both sides of the aisle.
"We've seen a seismic shift in how the Legislature is beginning to look at these issues," Clemens said during the presser.
This isn't Clemens' first attempt at getting medical marijuana legalized in Florida.
In 2010, Clemens made history when he introduced the first medical marijuana bill in Florida. It was, of course, quickly shot down by the Florida Legislature.
But Clemens has always been looking at this as a long game, knowing full well that this would be a process that would take time.
"We wanted to establish a framework," he told New Times last year when he introduced the original Cathy Jordan bill, "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."
Now, thanks to the medical marijuana initiative hitting the ballots in November, his 157-page "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act" (SB 962) bill is closer than ever to becoming a reality.
"A blanket ban on access to medical marijuana is hurting Floridians," Saunders said during Monday's news conference, "forcing them into treatments that are less effective and have much harsher side effects and labeling patients desperate for health care alternatives as criminals. It's about compassion; it's about patients."
Specifically, Clemens' bill covers more ground than the Charlotte's Web bill.
It focuses on 25 specific medical conditions, including chemo and radiotherapy, and maps out specifics for licensing and permitting of cannabis farms and dispensaries.
The bill's guidelines leaves prescription discretion up to doctors and sets up protocols for state agencies to monitor the regulations.
The bill comes just days before the anniversary of when Cathy Jordan and her husband, Robert, saw their home raided by authorities.
On February 15, 2013, Manatee County Police swarmed the Jordans' home after a government employee who wasn't even visiting the house spotted some marijuana plants on their property.
Turns out, Cathy is wheelchair-bound and has been battling Lou Gehrig's disease since 1986. She uses marijuana as treatment.
On April 2, the State Attorney's Office in Manatee County dropped the charges against Robert, who owns the home.
On Monday, Robert Jordan spoke the plain truth of Clemens' initiative.
"This bill puts patients before politics," he said.
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