Florida Republicans and the Risks of Fighting the Inevitable on Marijuana

By: Roger Stone | Posted: March 14, 2014 3:55 AM
Roger Stone

Roger Stone

Florida Republicans must come to grips with a bill introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, to legalize a strain of marijuana effective in helping children with certain conditions as well as a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by Orlando lawyer John Morgan to legalize medicinal marijuana as prescribed by a doctor. Republicans should support both.

Perhaps the late William F. Buckley said it best when he said, “Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.”

It is safe to say that some Republicans have been doing a rather convincing facsimile of “declin[ing] to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their head and reconsider is too great." As on gay marriage, the GOP has allowed itself to hold an increasingly unpopular view on a developing social movement simply because of a traditional aversion to the cause. In doing so, they have allowed themselves to ignore very good, oft-conservative, arguments.

Let’s face the facts: legalizing pot is unlikely to prove to be a magic cure for state budget woes, and those who argue it will are likely dishonest (or perhaps sampling a bit too much of the merchandise). However, any calculation of the fiscal effect of legalization (or decriminalization) must include not only a substantial increase on the revenue side of the ledger, but also the corresponding decrease on the expenditure side.

Not only could police forces redirect funds toward the prevention of violent crime, but the pressures put upon state budgets by prosecuting and locking up millions of nonviolent marijuana dealers would be substantially reduced.

Setting aside the arguments regarding personal responsibility, and the very real potential benefit to society from expanded research into medical uses for cannabis, the fiscal and policing issues alone should be enough to drive the movement toward the position greater society is already adopting.

Florida Republicans considering the legal future of marijuana should note the results of the Conservative Political Action Conference’s poll of 2014 attendees, which showed, among other things, some form of legal marijuana received support from 62 percent of attendees. In addition, fully 41 percent of those polled supported the full legalization and regulation of marijuana (with the remaining 21 percent of support coming in the form of stated support for legalized medical marijuana.)

The fact is, a majority of the population at large already thinks the drug should be legal, and the upward trend has shown no sign of slowing. And yes, young people, who among the population at large support legalization at rates of 2-to-1, have driven much of that growth. The CPAC organizers acknowledged as much in pointing out that the numbers referenced above were driven by the young people who flock to CPAC every year; however, the organizers also acknowledged that a plurality of all those interviewed -- across age ranges -- support legalization, except for those over the age of 65.

It has been said many times that the Republican Party relies too heavily on a dwindling number of older voters, and as with gay marriage, the numbers on the marijuana issue are similarly sobering for one who worries for the future of the conservative movement.

If the leaders of today’s conservative movement can lift their heads long enough to recognize the inevitability of the mainstreaming of marijuana, the movement will find itself not only on the correct side of history, but also in agreement with its base. Additionally, from a political perspective, it will provide the younger half of the electorate -- who, due to the gay marriage issue, already view the party as being out of touch with their values -- with a reason to listen to the arguments conservatives make on other issues.

A platform of personal freedom can be compelling for tomorrow’s voter; however, as long as the leaders of the movement remain stubbornly committed to prohibition; and limiting that freedom, neither the party nor the movement will be able to do more than count on the support of an ever-dwindling supply of older voters.

The longer conservatives find themselves on the wrong side by supporting irrational sentencing guidelines, eliminating the ability of violent drug cartels to finance their operations through the marijuana black market, raising state revenue, and opening thousands of prison beds for violent criminals, the more difficult it will be to convince voters of their genuine conversion when the shift inevitably happens. There is a conservative argument to be made in support of the pro-pot movement, and the sooner the leadership of the movement embraces it, the sooner they will find themselves able to attract new voters to our timeless message of personal freedom and a smaller state.

A decade ago Bill Buckley warned the conservative movement that it had fallen into a rut of intellectual laziness. Had the movement heeded his warning, it would not be forced to play catch-up. Should it refuse to heed his warning now, it risks losing an entire generation to liberalism in the same way the left lost the 30 years following the Johnson presidency.

Roger J. Stone Jr., with offices in Florida and Washington, D.C., is a legendary political consultant and lobbyist who specializes in opposition research for the Republican National Committee. He has played a key role in the election of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He is also the author of "The Man Who Killed Kennedy -- the Case Against LBJ" (Skyhorse). This column is exclusive to Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

9:04PM MAR 14TH 2014
Dr William L. Courtney, who has been studying the benefits of raw cannabis and that he states, "It (cannabis) has captures these molecules that help our bodies regulatory system be more effective. The bottom line is it's a dietary essential that helps all 210 cell types function more effectively”. He further states, “ I don't even refer to it as medicine anymore, strictly as a dietary essential". Cannabis is widely accepted and referred to as a nutraceutical, which is “Food, or parts of food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease”. We all have an endocannabinoid system that regulates the homeostasis of the other systems in our bodies by means of cannabinoids. We run on cannabinoids.

In raw fresh form cannabis is loaded with health benefits and will not get one high. It’s been said it has 60 times the healing properties compared to smoking because nothing gets burned, but instead consumed. It is the process of drying cannabis that turns THCA into THC. THCA is not psychoactive. One can consume raw fresh cannabis all day and never get high from it. A daily glass of cannabis juice has phenomenal healing properties and has saved lives, killed cancer, healed other diseases and brought those at deaths door back to a healthy life.

As a Florida patient who has proven to the court that I need it or I will die as they watched me deteriorate to the point of near toxic death, over a two and a half year court ordeal, and witnessed the amazing recovery once allowed to use the medicine again, I have a complete understanding of the critical value of the nutraceutical, the medicine, and the nature of plant/human relationship. My body slowly over time shuts down starting with my digestive system. I set out to understand why the medicine worked so well for me so I could explain it to the court. What I learned was amazing, emotionally overwhelming, and life altering. Once you understand that our bodies use cannabinoids for everything and it is a necessary nutrient for the human body to function and that in it natural raw state it is nothing but health in an herb, how can one come to any other conclusion other than it should be legal to grow in every back yard on the planet, sold in the produce department of every grocery store, served commonly in salads and as a sandwich topping, and a glass of fresh raw cannabis juice a should be as common as a glass of orange juice or apple juice. As a population control measure one may want to continue the illegality of the plant, but then that is genocide, an unacceptable practice by any government isn’t it? Do we outlaw grapes because they can be made into wine? Pharmaceutical companies continue to manufacture new addictive deadly drugs at an alarming rate, yet no one seems concerned over that. Why should cannabis medicine be treated different from any other medicine? It is simply an herbal medicine that drug companies considered a waste of time knowing they can not patent it in it best form. I think that was a huge mistake on their part, they could be manufacturing and selling RSO capsules now and bring an end to cancer as we know it, had they taken it seriously. Now we have a new industry that will continue to make strides in healing the masses. We have American Medicine and it works for many, yet there are other widely accepted forms of medicine. Medical cannabis is considered holistic medicine in many areas of the country. It has always been a part of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Korean medicines. Cannabis was widely used as medicine in this nation until 1937. Now science understands the connection between the plant and humans, it is time the nation accepts cannabis medicine as a science. In addition to American Medicine we currently have Chiropractic, Holistic, Herbal and Ayurvedic medicine being practiced here. There is room for cannabis medicine, the practice of medicine based on the endocannabinoid system and using cannabis to treat it.

Humans will always use an intoxicant. Cannabis is safer than alcohol for mind, body, and society. If we are a free nation we should have a legal choice of relaxants. Cannabis being the “Safest substance known to mankind”, according to the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, and never being the cause of a single death, should be legal to grow in every backyard on the planet. Is medical use a baby step to legalization, NO, it is a baby step to understanding the human/plant relationship we have with cannabis.

Since cannabis is the only thing that keeps my body functioning, (even my doctor and lawyer will atest to that) and I have seen and read of the thousands it helps in everything from seizures to cancer when all of modern medicines fail, I believe the government MUST legalize it, not doing so is a genocide, or forced chemical medical slavery. I have seen the damages of pharmaceuticals. The leading cause of addiction today is pharmaceuticals which are damaging to the body. Cannabis is a proven nutraceutical and consumed raw and fresh makes all 210 cell types work better. I believe every person on the planet should have safe legal access to such an amazing health benefit. The health of your children or grandchildren may depend on it.

If you don’t know the history of cannabis prohibition, the AMA’s objection to it, the wars fought over it, I advise you read up on it, again you may well be surprised by what you learn. Every American should know the truth, the best documentation of that is available free online "The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”
H.E. "Pete" Ashley
8:34PM MAR 14TH 2014
I believe Morgan is the one pulling the strings of our former Governor?
2:10PM MAR 14TH 2014
I applaude your effort to convince Republicans that they should support the inevitable. However, you do have to look at whats going on in Colorado. They are making lots of money, and its ALL benefiting the state. There is a huge amount of economic growth and job creation. "During the first month of recreational marijuana sales, Colorado's licensed dispensaries generated a total of more than $14 million, putting about $2 million of tax revenue into state coffers in the process." - Huffington Post
4:52PM MAR 14TH 2014
I heard the only problem Colorado is having is that a lot of banks won't hold the money being made because they're afraid the Feds will seize it. (I didn't read that myself, I heard it from someone else so who knows if it's accurate.)
1:51PM MAR 14TH 2014
People suffering from chronic pain have a completely different requirement when it comes to pain relief, sleeping aids and problems with eating. Consider the time immediately after breaking a bone, like an ankle or a wrist, and think of how sleeping or eating a meal would not be on the list of things that are likely to happen. Chronic pain can be characterized as a debilitating pain that disallows the sufferer to work, walk more than a hundred yards or so without assistance, and to sleep or eat properly.Amazingly, smoking or ingesting marijuana eases all or most of the symptoms associated with chronic pain, neurological and neuromuscular pain.REF: w w
9:17AM MAR 14TH 2014
At last! A Republican voice that echos the voice of Floridians, not the voice of Floridas' republicans. Those of us who support Voting YES ON 2 have heard politicians in Tally, Bondi and others, lie about the nature of the Amendment. The party of small goverment and personal rights has become a party of, for and by themselves, with re-election the thing of importance. At the current rate of lies and obstruction, next year Democrats will be writing the laws and regulations for Medical Marijuana and Florida will forever become a Blue State! The hardheaded, smallminded approach to MM, gay marriage and immigration reform are making the republican party history.
8:56AM MAR 14TH 2014
The truth is that prohibition of cannabis was a fraud a lie and that Governmental agencies and officials have colluded and block legitimate scientific research to maintain a $100 billion plus a year industry. And most these conservative do not want to admit they have been hoodwinked and brainwashed by these lies.
Brian Kelly
6:57AM MAR 14TH 2014
Let's not try to confuse Floridians on the distinct differences between their votes on Medical Marijuana and recreational use right before they get to decide on Medical Marijuana. That's a prohibitionist scare tactic.


When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let's have the compassion to allow them to have it.

Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

Support Medical Marijuana Now!

"[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane." — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, "Federal Foolishness and Marijuana," editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

"[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications." — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

"[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate." — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

"Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision." — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

"The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses' Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine." — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

"[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use." — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, "Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis," 1995

"When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug." — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

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