2014 Legislative Session Winner: Charlotte’s Web, RayAnn Moseley & cannabis growers

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Low-THC cannabis will be legalized in Florida for patients with specific ailments. Who could have seen that one coming a year ago?

There are more winners on this one issue than are easily enumerable. We’ll start with the obvious: lawmakers Matt Gaetz, Katie Edwards, Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley, and Jeff Brandes for having the courage to do what is right instead of what is easy by filing and fighting for a medical marijuana bill in a Republican-led Legislature in an election year.

Then there are two fairly unknown lobbyists, Jules Kariher and Kim Berton, who took the lead on Charlotte’s Web and managed to pull off the feat of getting the measure passed — with veto-proof majorities, at that. SB 1030 was approved by a vote of 30-9 in the Senate and 111-7 in the House.

RayAnn Moseley, the face of the Charlotte’s Web fight in Florida, is another clear winner. Her life — like those of so many other children suffering from severe forms of epilepsy — will be forever changed.

Finally, farmers — at least those who have been in operation for at least 30 years in this state — will have the opportunity to become approved to grow this strain of marijuana. Time will tell, but my guess is that this represents a big win in the farmers’ column, too.

None of these wins would have been possible had the Florida House and Senate not stayed the course, keeping partisan politics out of the bill.

But that is not to say the issue is apolitical. To the contrary, the debate around the legalization of Charlotte’s Web is the opening salvo in a far larger war that is likely to occur in 2015 when and if the far “broader” medical marijuana language in Amendment 2 passes in November.

While certainly serving those in need of this compassionate and right measure, this year’s debate was also a necessary exercise in desensitization in which Republican legislators were forced to wrap their heads around the concept that medical cannabis may have a legitimate role in the lives of Floridians.

 If this blog were featuring the legislative “winners” of the past decade, this one issue would absolutely make the list. Charlotte’s Web represents a major triumph by an odd-bedfellow team of proponents. There have been few issues like it before, and few will easily follow this unlikely and groundbreaking course.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.