In 2016 a second attempt was made to pass medical marijuana Amendment Two, which was “for individuals, with specific debilitating diseases or conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.” Amendment two passed with an overwhelming 71.3% of the votes, which totaled up to 6,496,157 total votes.
Over 67 counties in Florida voted for medical marijuana, yet in 2018 years after its passing that fact has failed to resonate on certain prospective Florida candidates.
Candidates such as Nikki Fried running for Agriculture Commissioner, Sean Shaw running for Attorney General, and Andrew Gillum running for Florida Governor recognize that 71.3% of the voter’s matter. All three candidates openly supported a sensible medical marijuana program. And all three candidates won their primary last night. Andrew Gillum’s television ad which included a reference to medical marijuana has been noted as the “most progressive ad in Florida history.”
Medical marijuana grassroots advocates from across Florida participated in a three hour question and answer meeting with Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried to discuss concerns and suggestions on how to improve the state’s medical marijuana and hemp program. Nikki Fried was one of few candidates who was willing to meet with the advocates which included Roz McCarthy, Bill Monroe, Bret Puffenberger, Michael Thompson, Robert Roundtree, Gary Stein, Shannon Livingston, Bob Reilly, Dr. Barry Gordon, and Steve Edmonds. Attempts were made by advocates to connect with other candidates which included Ashley Moody and Ron DeSantis unfortunately we were unsuccessful in gaining an audience.
Candidates are beginning to recognize that the 71.3% of voters matter when it comes to support, funding, and carrying votes forward during an election cycle. The November election in Florida will act as a bellweather for cannabis reform in Florida. Voters have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in the Department of Health’s movement on rules and regulations. Let’s hope the voices of the 71.3% will continue to make their voices heard in November.
Contributors: Bill Monroe and Roz McCarthy