TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -
Do you think marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes?
State Rep. Katie Edwards says yes.
Edwards has filed a bill that would allow people suffering from cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease or other illnesses, to be able to use medical marijuana legally with a doctor's permission.
Edwards named the legislation after Cathy Jordan, who has lived with ALS since 1986 and uses marijuana to alleviate her symptoms. Last month Manatee County sheriff's officers raided her home and seized more than 20 pot plants.
Rep. Edwards says six months ago she never could have imagined that she would sponsor this bill. But then she got sick, spent time in the hospital and realized she could not turn a blind eye to people's suffering.
"One of the things Cathy shared with me, she goes, 'I'm able to smoke marijuana and it helps me from not drooling every day. That gives me some dignity to be able to communicate and talk to someone and not feel like an infant.' If this was your mother or your grandmother, if this is a person you love, I think you'd go to the end of the world to help get them the pain relief that they need to make them feel better."
Edwards believes medical marijuana can improve the quality of life for sick people and give them more dignity.
"I thought, 'these are real people,' and this is something that's going on and I cannot turn a blind eye and stick my head in the sand and pretend like it's not happening, because it is."
Edwards' bill has not received a hearing yet in any committees and has virtually no chance of passing the Legislature this year.
That makes her mad. She says "shame on us as a Legislature" for not talking about the issue and considering how Florida would regulate and tax medical marijuana because she thinks voters will ultimately pass a constitutional amendment legalizing it.