History of Let Florida Decide
FLDecides.org is a project of the Florida Cannabis Action Network. It began in 2012 as a way to help our friends track what was happening in the legislative session. FLCAN staff and volunteers have worked the legislature since 2011, when the group re-organized under the leadership of Cathy Jordan as president of the Board of Directors. That same year, freshman House member Jeff Clemens introduced the first pro-marijuana bill since 1978.
Representative Clemens opened the discussion by presenting lawmakers with a proposed resolution to put cannabis on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Florida CAN was front and center when the bill was introduced, and since then we have generated over 80,000 e-mail contacts with Florida lawmakers.
Although that first bill went nowhere, in 2012 the same bill was filed with Senator Larcenia Bullard as the sponsor in the Senate. Senator Bullard said she initially filed the bill as a courtesy to the Representatives, but once she researched the issue, she too was convinced that cannabis is good medicine and the bill deserved a hearing.
A generous donor sponsored FLCAN’s Executive Director Jodi James in Tallahassee for 30 days in 2012. Jodi documented her experience through our blog, giving everyone an opportunity to share the experience.
Senator Bullard was term-limited in 2012, but it was our good fortune to have her son, Dwight Bullard, replace her in the Senate. Our champion in the House, Representative Clemens ran for and won his own Senate seat in November of 2012.
The 2013 bill honored our president Cathy Jordan with a comprehensive act that protects patients, provides for public safety and opens the door to research. The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act creates a regulated system for distribution, identifies patients through a registry and allows patients to possess and cultivate cannabis for their own use. The bill was introduced by now Senator Jeff Clemens and cosponsored by freshman House Democrat Katie Edwards.
Florida CAN spent more than $10,000 and friends provided more than $10,000 in-kind to assure that the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act was well represented in Tallahassee. Over a dozen people made their way to Tallahassee to advocate for sensible cannabis policies. Although the bill was not heard in committee, they laid the groundwork for 2014 session, and inspired trial lawyer John Morgan to fund the initiative. They also generated dozens of news stories about our efforts to reform cannabis laws.
In 2014,the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act took center stage after Dr. Gupta spearheaded a huge public re-education campaign. The Stanley Brothers of Colorado had a product known as Charlotte's Web. The Stanley's found their way to Florida, and used their fame to convince lawmakers a low THC-high CBD product would satisfy patients. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act was signed by the Governor. Upon becoming law patients with cancer, seizure disorders and spasticity disorders qualified for products made by five licensed growers to be chosen by the Department of Health.
Despite the failure of Amendment 2 to pass in 2014, the Florida Decides project carried on. During 2015, we built support for an overhaul of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act but the House dismissed before the bill reached the final vote. For more information about our current activities, check out our Fiscal Report.