With an 11-1 vote by the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, a historic moment for the conservatives was shepherded into the GOP-dominated House yesterday. It was the first time in modern history that the Florida Legislature voted to approve any marijuana-related product.
The committee embraced the proposal, HB 843, by Gaetz and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, after hearing heart-wrenching testimony from families whose children suffer from chronic epilepsy.
A similar bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate, where Senate president Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and Matt’s father, has said he has heard the testimony from the families and he wants the bill to pass as a first step.
“Here I am, a conservative Republican but I have to try to be humble about my dogma,” Senate President Don Gaetz told the Miami Herald/Times.
The families told the House committee that the discovery in Colorado of Charlotte's Web, which is low in the euphoric properties known as THC and high in the anti-seizure properties of CBD, is their last best hope.
They spoke of how they are considering moving to Colorado to get the relief needed for their kids, and they pleaded with the committee to move quickly.
“Daniel has over 300 seizures a year -- that’s on the low side,” said Kim Dillard of Pensacola, pointing to her 15-year-old son who suffers from Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
“We figure after 15 years, the odds of a big one are kind of against us,” she said. “We just want the chance to try it.”
The bill gives anyone found in possession of this kind of marijuana the right to defend themselves against prosecution. It also steers $1 million to state universities to research, develop and come up with a distribution plan for the specialty drug in Florida.