Jim Jones' Eastword column: Floridians may be coming around to the idea of medicinal pot

March 3, 2013 

Interesting poll this week shows that seven in 10 Florida voters support a constitutional amendment legalizing medicinal marijuana.

You can count me in among those who think it's high time to make pot legally available to relieve suffering caused by disease.

In 2008, Sheriff Brad Steube had this to say to the Bradenton Herald about medical marijuana:

"I understand those on the other side of the fence will argue that it's good for glaucoma or cancer because it eases pain," Steube said.

"I am not against the U.S. government growing and dispensing it through a prescription."

At the same time,Steube said that his experience in law enforcement leads him to believe it should not be legalized for everyone.

Fair enough, although you have to wonder about the long-time prospects of law enforcement winning the drug war.

Of course, Steube didn't just make a comment out of the blue about medicinal pot.

One of our reporters asked him about it after about a dozen supporters of medical pot met at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Among those at the meeting were Cathy and Bob Jordan of Parrish.

Cathy Jordan, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease -- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis -- in the mid-1980s, told the Herald in 2008 that the use of pot had allowed her to reduce her other medications. She felt that marijuana was what was keeping her alive.

Going back even further into the Bradenton Herald archives, in 1998 CathyJordan was reported collecting signatures onPalma Sola Causewayfor a constitutional amendment to allow medicinal pot. She also testifiedbefore the state's Consti-tution Revision Commission.

She was working toward winning passage of a medicinal pot law similar to the ones approved by voters in Arizona and California in 1996.

Well, it hasn't happened in Florida, not yet.

On Monday, Florida Senator Jeff Clemens announced that he was filing a medicinal marijuana bill, and naming it after Cathy Jordan for her longtime advocacy.

In an unfortunate coincidence, it was the same day Manatee deputies raided her home.

A real estate agent in the neighborhood saw something suspicious and alerted deputies.

Jordan and her husband, Robert, told the Herald's Elizabeth Johnson afterward that they have been growing marijuana at their home for 10 years.

They knew it was illegal but figured that it was safer than trying to buy it on the street.

Based on that newpoll, it seems that themajority of Floridians understand the desperation that comes with being seriously, perhaps terminally, ill.

Ordinarily, people who come down with ALS have two to five years to live. There are exceptions, such as the brilliant British physicist Stephen Hawking who has lived with the disease since 1987. Cathy Jordan is another.

If medicinal marijuana can give these suffers some comfort, can ease their pain, why not?

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.

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