TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2016) – A Florida House bill would legalize medical marijuana in the state, setting the foundation to nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by Rep. John Wood (R-Haines City), House Bill 1183 (H.1183) sets up a state regulatory regime that would allow medical marijuana to make its way into the hands of the sick. It reads, in part:
A registered patient or his or her designated caregiver may purchase, acquire, and possess up to the allowed amount of medical-grade marijuana, including paraphernalia, for that patient’s medical use. In order to maintain the protections under this section, a registered patient or his or her designated caregiver must demonstrate that:
(a) He or she is legally in possession of the medical-grade marijuana, by producing his or her medical marijuana identification card.
(b) Any marijuana in his or her possession is within the registered patient’s allowed amount of marijuana, by producing a receipt from the dispensing organization..
Under H.1183, patients would qualify to use medical marijuana if they suffered from AIDS, HIV, cancer, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or any illness deemed terminal by a licensed physician. Medical marijuana dispensaries would be authorized as well.
Despite federal marijuana prohibition, measures such as H.1183 remain perfectly constitutional, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Passage of this bill would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in Florida. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
While this Florida bill would not alter federal law, they would take a step toward nullifying in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, the Indiana legislature would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
If the Florida legislature passes H.1183, the Sunshine State would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically nullifying the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.