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Democrats File Bills To Legalize Medical Marijuana

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) -- Two Democratic lawmakers have filed bills (SB 962 and HB 859) to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

The measure, filed by Sen. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth and Rep. Joe Saunders of Orlando, is called the Cathy Jordan Cannabis Act, after a Florida woman who has lived with Lou Gehrig's disease for the better part of 30 years.

Several patients who said they benefit from using medical marijuana joined the sponsors at a news conference at the Capitol Monday, including 30-year-old Ryan Roman of Manatee County, who was diagnosed with brain cancer nearly a decade ago. Roman said doctors told him he would die in 2010, but marijuana-based oil has kept him alive.

He now has a 2-year-old daughter. "We're not here to harm anybody," Roman said. "We are simply here to gain a little bit of comfort, in that conventional medicine and other options currently available aren't always the best options."

The sponsors say their bill would legalize the drug immediately, joining 20 other states in allowing medical marijuana.

This is the fourth straight year such a measure has been filed in Florida, but Clemens said the public's attitude toward medical pot is changing. "The polling on the issue hasn't necessarily changed the minds of some politicians, but it has let them actually speak their minds, whereas before they may have felt that they didn't want to go out on a limb on this issue," he said.

A constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana will appear on the November ballot, after its language was recently approved by the state Supreme Court. Sixty percent of voters would have to support the amendment for it to pass.

"The News Service of Florida contributed to this report."

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