Florida’s 19th Congressional District held a special election on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Rep. Trey Radel. Radel resigned after pleading guilty to charges of cocaine possession in Washington DC. After Radel resigned in January, Gov. Rick Scott called for the special election. The candidate will fill the remainder of Radel’s term and will have to seek re-election again in November.
One candidate seeking to finish Radel’s term in Congress is Libertarian Party candidate Ray Netherwood. He faces Republican Curt Clawson, Democrat April Freeman, and Republican write-in candidate Timothy Rossano. With Congress finally starting to consider reforming federal laws on hemp and ending funding for DEA raids in states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis, and with Florida passing SB 1030 and Amendment 2 likely to pass in November, the next Representative to join Florida’s delegation to Congress will have a chance to change policies that will effect the future of cannabis in the Sunshine State.
Florida Candidates Supporting Cannabis Reform
“It’s none of the government’s business what I eat, drink, smoke, shoot, or anything else, as long as I’m not hurting or interfering with anybody else’s life I should be free to live mine,” said Libertarian Party candidate Ray Netherwood. “I am going to be voting for Amendment 2 in November. I think the vote on Amendment 2 is a no-brainer. The notion that government would withhold something from people that has been shown not only anecdotally, but has been shown clinically now, in the last 40 years, that there is benefit, the notion that the federal government or the state would withhold something from people I find very offensive. You even have the great Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming out and saying that his original stance on medical marijuana was wrong, and I agree with him, he was absolutely wrong. I’m a staunch, staunch supporter of Amendment 2. That is a state ballot issue, but it is something that we’ve talked about at forums and debates, and I’ve always come out very much in favor of it; and the other two candidates would kind of hem and haw. The Democrat is more pro, and Clawson has family drug use issues that tied him up in knots, apparently he can’t speak freely to it. He says, “I’ve seen terrible things out of this,” well, there are people who have alcohol issues and obviously managed to get beyond that, you need to be responsible for your life, so Clawson, I don’t think he will come out and say one way or the other, but I’m very much in favor of it.”
April Freeman, the Democratic candidate in the race, has come out in favor of medical marijuana. “Allowing patients with serious medical conditions to treat with marijuana is the compassionate thing to do and it creates thousands of jobs and generates millions of dollars in revenue. Thousands of Floridians are suffering from serious medical conditions and they may benefit from the medical use of marijuana.”
Republicans in Race Split on Marijuana Issue
When asked about marijuana at Question & Answer session, Republican candidate Curt Clawson has said people need to be, “very careful with this” and that “those that want to legalize marijuana, make the case that pot is a victimless drug, and that drugs are victimless, but I’m not sure that’s the case.” Clawson explained that he did not know “the in’s and out’s about medicinal marijuana enough to speak with any authority” but he did say that caution needs to be taken before “legalizing drugs that are currently illegal.” Another Republican in the race for the June 24th special election is Timothy Rossano. Rossano is running as a write-in candidate. Rossano was not available for comment but his campaign has posted pro-legalization information on his campaign’s facebook page.
Freeman Proposes Federal and State Taxation of Medical Marijuana
While Netherwood, Rossano, and Freeman all seem to support Amendment 2, only Freeman is proposing on taxing medical marijuana., not just at the state level but at the federal level. Freeman has been polling below Clawson and Netherwood. On her campaign site, Freeman released an economic platform she calls Freemanomics. Describing her Freemanomics platform on her website, April Freeman said, “First, we are going to levy taxes on medical marijuana . Overwhelming approval from Florida voters, it would be irresponsible to not consider the extra revenue this untapped industry will create.” “Florida has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of states like Michigan and Connecticut. It can be done safely and intelligently, and it’s the right thing to do. Plus, the state and federal government can levy ta xes while providing patients with compassionate care.”
Libertarian Candidate Wants to Close DEA
If Netherwood can pull an upset and win, he would become the first Libertarian Party candidate elected to Congress. Netherwood is running for the seat again in the November election. If elected, Netherwood hopes to get the federal government to respect the 9th and 10th amendments and get the government to stop interfering with state marijuana legalization. “The issue of drug enforcement is not a Washington DC issue. It’s overreach.”
In a post on his campaign site’s blog from October of last year, titled “Things to Shut Down!”, Netherwood said, “The Drug Enforcement Administration, if relieved of the marijuana witch hunts, could probably be reduced by 50 to 75%, shuttered, and remaining duties transferred to the FBI.” When asked if he would introduce legislation to reduce and shutter the DEA, Netherwood said, “I would be willing to work with anyone, I don’t care what party affiliation they are, to try to decriminalize and end the war on drugs. It’s something that I would certainly try and do, and it would save a lot of money in the process too. Drug addiction and substance abuse is a medical issue, it shouldn’t be a criminal one.”
“My hope is to downsize the DEA significantly, to try to push state’s rights issues at the federal level. The federal government really needs to keep it’s nose out of things which aren’t in the Constitution, and what I choose to eat and drink and smoke and use within the confines of my home, should be my business and none of the business of Washington DC.”
For more information on Curt Clawson go to: www.curtclawson.com
For more information on Timothy Rossano go to: https://facebook.facebook.com/pages/Timothy-John-Rossano/172670542795092