PUFMM, People United for Medical Marijuana, a political action committee based in Orlando has been collecting signatures to get a medical marijuana referendum on the FL ballot in 2012. Since California’s historic proposition 215 in 1996, 16 states have passed medical marijuana voter referendums.
And while it’s not a state the District of Columbia, has passed medical marijuana legislation as well. Isn’t it time Florida joins the ranks? PUFMM’s referendum campaign has been criminally neglected by the media. The fact is Florida is one of the only southern states that’s Constitution allows for voter referendums. The signatures of 750,000 registered FL voters are needed to put the referendum on the ballot in Nov. 2012. . The deadline for collecting signatures is February 2012. We only have few more months left. I know the numbers are out there. It’s just the logistics of getting that volume of signatures require the help of many volunteers. PUFMM is a grassroots organization ( pun intended… ) They don’t have the deep pocket lobbyists behind them like the other PAC’s. That’s why they need you to get involved by collecting signatures from your family and friends and/or donating to their campaign. One massive SIGN ONLINE DAY, and if everybody signed we could get the numbers. Unfortunately you can’t actually sign the petition online but you can download, sign, and mail it in.You can find the petition and volunteer at www.pufmm.org. If you are a registered voter in the state of FL, please sign the petition and e-mail the link to all your friends and have them e-mail it to their friends. If you aren’t a registered FL voter and are eligible you can find the forms at any public library or post office at the link below.
…tell ‘em Space Hippie sent ya’!
Let me tell you a little about the history of the medical marijuana movement in the state of Florida. Soon after California’s voters passed proposition 215 in 1996. CAMM, the Coalition Advocating Medical Marijuana, a non profit organization was formed in 1997 to work on a referendum campaign for the state of Florida. Because of my student activist work, I was asked to be the Associate Director. With the help of the ACLU ( American Civil Liberties Union ) and a grant from the MPP ( Marijuana Policy Project ), a political action committee ( PAC ) was formed ( that’s what PUFMM is ) and a legally binding FL medical marijuana referendum petition was filed in Tallahassee. CAMM then began a statewide campaign tour to gather signatures of registered FL voters to get the initiative on the FL ballot. I traveled across the state in my beat up Nissan Sentra with fellow CAMM board members, Kevin Aplin( from Cannabis Action Network ) and federal medical marijuana patient Elvy Mussika and her 300 joints from the federal government. Back in the 80’s, the University of Miami’s Baskin Palmer Eye Institute documented marijuana’s effectiveness in alleviating her glaucoma.With their help, she became one of the first federal medical marijuana patients under the Compassionate Use Act. I had met Elvy when she spoke before the U.M. Hemp Awareness Council, a student organization formed to educate the public of the many benefits of cannabis hemp. Today, Elvy is one of four federal patients left under the Compassionate Use Act. She receives her medicine monthly from the federal government in the form of big tin full of 300, yes 300 rolled marijuana cigarettes.Why 300 you ask? The federal marijuana that is grown at University of Mississippi in Biloxi and is very low in THC ( the active ingredient Tetra Hydro Cannabinol ) or in street parlance it’s real “schwag”. They roll it seeds and stems included. That’s why she’s prescribed 10 joints a day. Our government’s Compassionate Use Act is not very kind. If she had high grade, potent marijuana ( say some Purple Kush or some Jack Herer ) she would only have to take a few puffs every hour or so. The Compassionate Use Act was ended under the Bush ( Sr. ) Administration just as they were being flooded with applications from AIDS patients. While new patients applying for the program we’re denied, the ones already in it we’re grandfathered in. There used to be 100’s of people in the program but now there’s only 4 people left and they are the only ones in the entire U.S. are allowed to use marijuana medicinally under federal law and that’s because all of the rest of the patients who were part of the program have since died. Can you feel the love?
( Ironically under federal law marijuana is Schedule I which means it has no medicinal usage even though they still prescribe it to the patients in the program, another conundrum, an oxymoron like military intelligence…)
The Campaign Tour was a real rollercoaster ride. Picture me driving to from county to county in Florida in my beat up car with a nearly blind woman with her tin of 300 joints, collecting signatures and signing people up to collect signatures at every stop along the way? Every day, five days a week we would hold a press conference at a different county seat announcing the FL Medical Marijuana Referendum. All the local media, the newspapers and tv, would be there as well as patients, activists, as well as vocal opponents. Elvy would speak then light up a joint on the courthouse steps and pandemonium would ensue. We started the campaign in Pensacolaand wound our way through every county in the Panhandle ( a notoriously conservative part of the state affectionately known as the Redneck Riviera ) so you can imagine our reception. Elvy was only arrested once thankfully and that was in Dixie County by some local cops who had to call D.C. to find out she really was legally prescribed to use marijuana and had to let her go.But that was not the case with hundreds of patients we came in contact with. Their stories would break your heart. A Multiple Sclerosis ( M.S.) patient who was severely debilitated, routinely harassed and arrested by the police. Withering away AIDS patients not able to afford buying their medicine on the streets, not being able to keep food down without it. A seriously ill woman who’s husband was arrested for growing a few plants for her on their land in rural Florida hung herself after he went to jail and there was no there one to care for her. And then they tried to seize their land! Joe Hart, a decorated Vietnam Vet who was running the Cannabis Buyers Club in Key West before he was set up by the Feds died in the V.A. Hospital in Miami before he could go to trial. On the tour, I came to know these people, they welcomed us into their homes. They became family. I returned from that campaign feeling like I just came back from a war….and I did. The War on Drugs. Patients are caught in the middle of it. Not much has changed. All of this goes on to this very day. Regardless of your stand on the illegal use of drugs, don’t you think sick and suffering patients should be able to obtain their medical marijuana legally if prescribed by their doctor? They already can prescribe far worse!And as far as marijuana being perceived bythe medical community as not being a legitimate medicine that is far from the case. The AMA, the American Medical Association itself is in favor of medical marijuana. With the help of NORML ( thanks Keith ) we flew in a renown expert on the subject John P. Morgan M.D. from NYU to testify in Tallahassee at the Constitutional Revision Committee about the efficacy of marijuana as medicine. I had a nice conversation with him when I picked him up at the airport that rainy night. I was saddened to hear he passed away a few years ago. I highly recommend his book “Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts”, a definitive compendium of marijuana studies.
The authorites always say that they would be for the legalization of medical marijuana if there was more tests. The test have been done! The Federal Government conducted a extensive study on marijuana, the Schafer Commission during the Nixon administration that came out in favor of it. Thousands of clinical trials have shown proof again and again that marijuana is a safe and effective medicine. When marijuana was made illegal in 1938 under the Marijuana Tax Act, a representative of the AMA testified before Congress that cannabis was one of the most important drugs available and because of it’s non toxicity and for it’s use for the children and the elderly and pleaded that it’s use would not be restricted. It has been used since the beginning of time for everything from chronic pain to menstrual cramps. Women we’re given it by mid wives to alleviate the pains of childbirth. Nowadays if a mother tests postive for marijuana they try and take away her baby!
This madness has to stop.
The first FL referendum campaign bit the dust. The number of signatures needed to get it on the ballot was not met and eventually it was rescinded. We can’t let that happen again! The Miami Herald did a poll back then that stated 60% of all Florida voters we’re in favor of medical marijuana and many, many more have been educated on the issue since then. Educating the public of the facts is the key and the long term goal. So educate yourself and the people you love. Even if we don’t get the numbers, can we the people of Florida come together on this issue and show
a message of solidarity with those other states that have asserted their right to treat people with compassion? Forward this link to everyone you know www.pufmm.org.
This has been a public service announcement brought to you by Space Hippie Worldwide Ministries.