Florida’s gubernatorial election this November features candidates from across the political spectrum, all with different positions on cannabis policy. The Governor will play an important role in creating and implementing Florida’s drug policy for the next 4 years. As head of the Executive Branch for the State of Florida, the Governor has the power to decide how laws like the low-THC cannabis law, and if passed, the broader medical cannabis initiative Amendment 2, are implemented and enforced. A Governor could help ensure access to medical cannabis is adequate or could impede the implementation of the law and prevent adequate access to medical cannabis.

Gov. Rick Scott’s Mixed Feelings on Medical Cannabis

Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott (R)

Current Governor, Republican Rick Scott, has signed a very limited medical cannabis bill, SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, during his term in office. However, Scott is strongly opposed to Amendment 2, the broader medical cannabis legalization initiative which will also be on the ballot this November. Scott has said he personally opposes Amendment 2, telling people at a stop on the campaign trail that, “I’ve watched drug use; I’ve watched alcoholism. I’ve seen how it affects families; I can’t support that [Amendment 2].” Previously, Scott released a statement saying that, “I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But, having seen the terrible affects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it. No matter my personal beliefs, however, a ballot initiative would be up to the voters to decide.” Scott’s re-election campaign website includes no mention of his position on cannabis.

Former Governor Charlie Crist Endorses Amendment 2, Despite History of Prohibitionist Policies

Former Governor Charlie Crist, who was elected as a Republican and served from 2007-2011, is now running as Democrat. Crist has publicly endorsed both the low-THC Charlotte’s Web law (SB 1030), as well as Amendment 2. The Crist campaign released a statement on their website saying, “This November, Floridians will be voting on a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would permit medical marijuana. Charlie will be voting for the amendment. He believes that it is an issue of compassion, of trusting doctors, and of trusting the people of Florida.”

Gov. Charlie Christ

Former Gov. Charlie Christ (D)

While Crist is now endorsing medical cannabis in his second bid for Governor, during his previous term in office he signed several anti-cannabis bills. In 2008 Crist signed HB 173, the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act. That act made it a second degree felony to cultivate 25 or more cannabis plants, whereas the law that was in force prior to the enactment of HB 173, only punished cultivation as a second degree felony if a person was growing 300 or more cannabis plants. Opponents of the bill, such as the ACLU of Florida, charged that HB 173 was unconstitutional because it trampled property rights and due process, by allowing law enforcement to destroy grow house equipment and instead only collect photos or video as evidence. In 2010 Crist signed SB 366, the “Bong Ban Bill” which created prohibition of “drug paraphernalia” and placed restrictions on how pipes and other smoking devices could be legally sold. The Bong Ban Bill sparked the formation of the Florida Smoke Shop Association, which lobbied strongly against the Bong Ban.

Libertarian Candidate for Gov. Adrian Wyllie Endorses Amendment 2 and Calls for Ending the War on Drugs

Adrian Wyllie

Adrian Wyllie (L)

Adrian Wyllie is the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of Florida. Wyllie is an investigative journalist, a radio show host, as well as former chariman of the Florida Libertarian Party, and an activist who has challenged the constitutionality of the REAL ID Act and the TSA. Wyllie released a statement on his campaign’s website strongly condemning the prohibition of cannabis. “Marijuana should be legalized. The war on drugs has been an abject failure. People are still doing drugs despite the laws. As a country, we’re spending $1 trillion each year to fight drugs. 60% of our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders. We’ve been battling this war for more than 40 years. Lives are still being destroyed. Prohibition creates crime and violence. If drugs are legalized, there will still be a percentage of people who will ruin their own lives. That statistic will not change. But, they will be more likely to seek help and we will reduce the number of drug related deaths, the non-violent prison population, and the amount of felons who may struggle to get employment despite being qualified for work. Medical marijuana is becoming acceptable among people across party lines. It’s a natural choice for pain relief.”  Adrian Wyllie is for the passing of Amendment 2.

Independent Candidate Farid Khavari Supports Full Legalization in Florida

Farid Khavari is an economist who is running as the Independent candidate for Governor of Florida. Khavari previously ran for Governor of Florida in the 2010 election as a Democratic candidate. Khavari strongly supports Amendment 2 and the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, as well as full legalization of recreational cannabis and hemp. While Farid Khavari does have strong pro-cannabis positions, his isn’t just a “marijuana candidate.” “I decided to run because I can fix the economy, and a lot of other issues, like energy, the environment, and some of the social issues.” Khavari has written over ten books on economics and other subjects.

Farid Khavari

Farid Khavari (I)

“You see I have written a book titled, “Vultures: Doctors, Lawyers, Hospitals and Insurance Companies: What’s Wrong, and What to Do About It,” this was back in 1990 it got published. It was based on an experience I had with my wife, she was killed by medical malpractice, and I saw what was wrong. And I come from a background where I was used to herbal medicine a lot, and I had gone through a lot of suffering during my younger years, my brother died because of leukemia, and so I worked and worked and developed the super clinic concept, in which we have to reduce the cost of health care and provide quality health care to the people.” “Herbal medicine is the best way to do it, and marijuana is the way to do it. I have seen it, I’ve seen it work on my dying brother who had leukemia, and it helped for him. And it’s the right thing to do, so I think it’s important that first we pass Amendment 2, legalization of medical marijuana, and then later on we should get into recreational marijuana, and eventually hemp.” “It is simply cruel to withhold the benefits of a safe natural substance from people who suffer from a variety of ailments, many of which cannot be cured by pharmaceutical drugs. There is no doubt that medical marijuana will reduce health care costs in Florida and reduce a lot of suffering. Certainly it would create some jobs and even some tax revenue.”

Cannabis is also part of Khavari’s proposed energy policy. “Hemp is a very important thing.” “It could be a source of food, and raw material, and energy, and it is safe and it is environmentally friendly.” “Algae and hemp could be used to produce biofuels, such as ethanol. Hemp could be grown in the Everglades.” In 1993 Khavari published a book that dealt with the subject of environmental policy, economics, and hemp, titled, “Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity.”

Khavari believes that unlike SB 1030’s system which would only select 5 large nurseries to grow, process, and distribute low-THC cannabis, Amendment 2 should be implemented so that small businesses cultivate, process, and distribute medical marijuana. “We can expect strong resistance from to this ballot initiative, especially from the drug cartels and other big money interests. A ballot initiative is pure democracy—the way the people can overrule a big money minority.” “Marijuana growing and sales must be limited to small businesses. We do not want giant corporations moving into the market. We don’t want television advertising or promotions like we have with alcohol and prescription drugs. This is an opportunity for many good jobs in small businesses and we must make the licensing process simple and fair. Further, it must be legal for adults to grow a reasonable quantity for personal use, while not legal to sell without a license.”

Khavari Would Pardon Non-Violent People Convicted of Marijuana Offenses

“Medical choices should be between you and your doctor. Whether or not you need or even want medical marijuana for yourself, please help the people who do. Nationally, a majority of people favor full legalization, while 83% or more favor legalizing medical marijuana.” “Legalization would require action by the State House and Senate, or a ballot initiative by the people. Polls show that a majority of Floridians support legalization. As governor, I will work with legislators to prepare a bill on legalization for presentation to the legislature on March 1, 2015. I must admit that I don’t hold out much hope for fast action by the legislature but I will lobby them to get it done. If the 2015 legislative session closes without action, we will resort to Direct Democracy. I will support a ballot initiative immediately and the people will decide. Marijuana prohibition has cost us billions of dollars and has destroyed countless lives by making criminals out of ordinary people. As governor, I will resume and speed up the process of restoring civil rights to ex-felons in Florida. There are about one million ex-felons in Florida and it is no mystery why Rick Scott has virtually stopped restoring their civil rights. As governor, if anyone is in jail for simple possession of marijuana, I will get them out as soon as possible, and I will pardon anyone whose only felony conviction is for possession of marijuana.”

Candidates for Florida Governor2

For more information on Democrat Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor and his position on medical marijuana go here: http://www.charliecrist.com/policy-positions/medical-marijuana

For more information on Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, Adrian Wyllie, and his positions on cannabis legalization and drug policy go here: http://wyllieforgovernor.com/issues-2/marijuana/

For more information on Independent candidate for Governor Farid Khavari and his positions on cannabis legalization go here: http://khavariforgovernor.com/marijuana/ and http://khavariforgovernor.com/marijuana-2/

For more information on Republican candidate Rick Scott’s re-election campaign go here: http://www.rickscottforflorida.com