Florida saw two bills this year for medical marijuana. Both were shot down in committee, but activists are still hitting the pavement. This time, they've got a tall order: 676,811 signatures for the 2014 ballot.
Kim Russell, the chair of People United for Medical Marijuana, made a case today for medical marijuana in the Sunshine State on the Orlando Sentinel. "This is one of the safest pain medications available, used all over the world, but Floridians can't use it to treat serious illnesses," says Russell. "Our state's population has one of the largest shares of retirees, and we can't give them legal access to a medication that is safe, effective, affordable — and one of the least addictive pain killers available."
Last year, Florida passed a law requiring all welfare recipients to submit to a drug test, and proponents of the law touted its money-saving potential. New data shows that the law actually cost Florida $46,000 and didn't find many drug users.
Drug tests were only administered between July and October 2011, at which point a judge blocked it for infringing on Fourth Amendment rights.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida released data showing that only 2.6% of applicants to the welfare system failed the drug test (the most common failure reason being marijuana). "Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost," states the NYT, "an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140."
This last Friday, the Florida Senate approved a bill that will allow state employees to be randomly drug tested - with no prior suspicion needed. It is now awaiting Governor Rick Scott's signature.
The Daily Chronic has the story up, but the gist is this: if signed by Scott, effective July 1, 2012, House Bill 1205 "requires drug testing to be conducted within each state agency's appropriation; authorizes agencies within state government to require employees to submit to periodic random drug testing; revises provisions relating to discharging or disciplining certain employees; authorizes agency to refer employee, at employee's expense, to employee assistance program or alcohol & drug rehabilitation program if not discharged," among other things.
Billboards in favor of marijuana's legalization have begun to appear in Broward County, Florida, and what's unique about them is that they're targeting senior citizens.
"Legalize Marijuana," one says in bold lettering, "I'm a patient, not a criminal." Another reads "Reschedule Medical Marijuana, one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."