While Florida’s Republican US Senator, Marco Rubio, has come out in favor of only low-THC medical cannabis and against Amendment 2, Florida’s other US Senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, has come out in support of Amendment 2. Sen. Nelson was quoted by the Tampa Bay Times as saying, “Marijuana used as a medical relief for people that are desperate, I agree that ought to be legal,” and that cannabis legislation is, “best left to the states,” rather than the federal government. Nelson also recently told the Tampa Bay Times, “Just listen to the personal testimonies of people that nothing will help them as they are dying and marijuana gives them comfort and relieves the pain.”
Nelson Opposes Full Legalization
While Sen. Nelson has come out in support of medical cannabis legalization, he does not support full legalization of cannabis. In 2012, Sen. Nelson replied to questions from the West Palm Beach Libertarian, saying, “I believe we must provide our law enforcement community with adequate resources to combat the use and sale of illegal drugs. I have been a strong supporter of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program that fights crime through community partnership and engagement programs. At a time when local and State governments are slashing budgets, this money is vital to ensuring that sheriff and police forces have adequate staff and equipment to maintain public safety. The COPS program has helped State and local police purchase new crime fighting technologies, including equipment to assist them in the war on drugs. Florida’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas is a unique partnership between Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to reduce trafficking in areas where this problem is most severe. I believe these programs should be expanded. ”
“However, more should be done to reduce the demand for illegal drugs through education and rehabilitation. In these tough economic times, we need real solutions to our problems not lawmakers blindly slashing programs without careful evaluation of their merits. I believe that law enforcement should have the tools to effectively carry out their duties and ensure their safety. ”
“I oppose legalizing marijuana. At this time, no legislation is pending in the Senate to decriminalize the possession or use of marijuana.”
Sen. Nelson Votes for Hemp, Hasn’t Supported Other Pro-Cannabis Bills
Sen. Nelson did vote for the 2014 Farm Bill, which included language that allows research plots of industrial hemp to be cultivated in states that permit it, because of an amendment introduced by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY 4), which passed in the House of Representatives version of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, with the House’s hemp amendment, did pass the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had introduced a broader hemp amendment to the Farm Bill, but the Senate refused to consider it. Neither Sen. Nelson, nor Sen. Rubio have co-sponsored or supported Senate Amendment 3289, introduced by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, which would defund DEA raids on states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis.