A United For Care spin-off group has released a set of principles being used to create a model legislative framework for medical marijuana, assuming passage of a proposed constitutional amendment on Nov. 4. Called Florida for Care, the group is headed by Jon Mills, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and the primary author of Amendment 2. United For Care was the primary advocacy group responsible for crafting the proposed amendment, securing the signatures to place it on the Nov. 4 ballot, and then defending it from a Florida Supreme Court challenge by the Florida attorney general early this year.
United for Care now acts as the conduit for pro-Amendment 2 speakers and advertisements. Operating as Florida for Care, Mills has assembled a panel of experts that includes law enforcement officials, physicians, patient advocates, legal experts, government representatives and business leaders. The panel Wednesday released a detailed set of guiding principles that members are using to craft their model legislative package.
A number of the principles can be seen to be a direct refutation of claims being made on the website, and in speeches and advertisements by a group opposed to passage of the amendment, Vote No on 2. For example, the amendment allows for personal caregivers — people who are not the medical marijuana patients but who see to their care. Vote No on 2’s first TV ad raises the concern that a personal caregiver could be a convicted drug dealer.
The guidelines state that a person convicted of a felony should not be permitted to register as a personal caregiver, “unless the patient is an immediate family member or his or her rights have been restored.” A spokeswoman for the Orlando-based group said the actual legislative package will be released within a couple of weeks. The panel plans to hold four public meetings to ensure the Legislature is provided a detailed and careful plan to make medical marijuana available to Floridians in need.
“When Amendment 2 passes, it will be helpful for the Legislature to get a head start with implementing legislation,” said Mills. “We brought people with different points of view and identified major principles, visions and policies to be implemented.” Former Republican Majority Leader, state Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla, serves as vice chair of the commission. He has stated his opposition to the passage of Amendment 2, but takes pride in the model legislation that the panel is now finishing.
“It’s a conservative bill that protects communities, and gives patient’s access to their medicine,” said Diaz de la Portilla. “When implemented, the legislation will be highly functional, efficient and will protect our state from the hazards that could emerge without expert preparation, appropriate safeguards and highly regulated for use only by appropriate patients.” Florida for Care will continue to serve as a resource for policy makers and their staff as they seek to develop and support medical marijuana policies.
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