By Roger Stone
Tampa’s super-lawyer John Morgan has two Florida state goals for 2014: (1) pass a constitutional amendment that would allow doctors in Florida to prescribe medicinal marijuana to patients and (2) use said passage of the law to benefit his no-show employee, Republican-turned-Independent-
Now suddenly Crist says he’s open to legalizing medical marijuana. How stupid do Morgan and Crist think Florida voters are? In comments to reporters, Crist said he is open to backing an expected petition drive to legalize medical use of marijuana in Florida which will be funded largely by his employer, trial lawyer John Morgan of the Morgan & Morgan law firm. “If you’re talking about a real doctor trying to help somebody who’s suffering, we ought to be at least open to it,” he said. (“Crist Charms Gathering of Democrats in Pasco,” St. Augustine Record, 6/23/13)
Of all of Charlie Crist’s flip-flops this could be the biggest. Crist has a long history of opposition to marijuana law reform. Even though he has admitted to smoking marijuana himself , as Governor he pushed and signed the harshest anti-marijuana laws in the nation- and he used the issue as a wedge to bludgeon opponents who supported modest drug law reform.
In Crist’s 2000 campaign for Education Commissioner, Charlie Crist ran an ad attacking his opponent for sponsoring legislation in 1975 to decriminalize marijuana use. “Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, Republican candidate for Florida education commissioner, had been attacking Democratic opponent George Sheldon for sponsoring the 1975 legislation that would ‘decriminalize’ marijuana.Sheldon’s support of the marijuana legislation ‘shows a pattern of permissive behavior,’ said Crist, a lawyer and former state senator from Pinellas County.” Reported Diane Rado of the St. Petersburg Times, ( “Republican Pulls Ad Critical of Arrest,”11/4/00)
“Crist and the GOP called Sheldon ‘far out and far left’ for backing a bill in 1975 to impose lighter penalties on first-time marijuana users. Of the charges the two have leveled against each other, Crist says public safety was his priority in the Senate but that he sponsored legislation creating drug-free and alcohol-free zones at schools and bonuses for teachers. Sheldon defends his 1975 drug bill, saying it would have put first-time offenders into treatment, rather than jail.” reported Lesley Clark of the Miami Herald, “PAIR VIE FOR EDUCATION POST THAT WILL SHIFT IN TWO YEARS,” 11/5/00)
In 2008, Charlie Crist opposed weakening Florida’s toughest-in-the-nation marijuana possession laws, including five years in prison for possessing one ounce of marijuana. The Miami Herald reported, “Though he has admitted to smoking marijuana, Gov. Charlie Crist said he still favored Florida’s tough drug laws and doesn’t support legislative plans to review whether to lessen penalties for some crimes such as non-violent drug possession.
The state’s prison population is expected to swell at year’s end to a record 100,000, about 20 percent of whom are non-violent drug offenders convicted of crimes such as trafficking and simple possession. … But Crist said he wants to keep the laws the way they are. ‘It’s important to make sure that we do what the first order of business is, and that is to ensure domestic tranquility — make sure that our people are safe — and that means locking up bad people,’ he said. What about nonviolent drug offenders?
I feel that our laws are good in Florida. They were thoughtfully put in place. And I know there is a budget crunch. But I don’t want to sacrifice public safety,’ Crist said.” reported Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald, “Crist Wants to Maintain Drug Penalties,” ( 3/15/08)
A report by the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington stated that under Governor Charlie Crist, Florida had the toughest marijuana possession laws in the country including five years in prison for the possession of one ounce of marijuana. “Relaxing marijuana laws is an issue you won’t see the Florida Legislature take up in 2010, but the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington has a new study out today that says the state has the harshest penalties in the nation.
State law provides for a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison for possession of one ounce, whereas the state with the second-most severe penalty, Arizona, has a maximum penalty of 1.5 years. Thirty other states and the District of Columbia have maximum penalties of six months to one year in jail,” the study reads. But while the study claims there is “no relationship between marijuana arrest and use rates,” a look at the state data (provided by the group shows Florida’s pot use actually decreased from 2003 to 2007.
Mike Meno, a spokesman for the group, says however that Florida has average use rates compared with other states and if the tough laws worked, the rate should be lower.” reported Alex Leary of the St. Petersburg Times, “Florida has toughest pot laws, group finds,” (11/5/09)
Charlie Crist also signed the Florida Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act making it a felony to possess more than 25 marijuana plants. According to the Staff Analysis of the new law signed by Crist, it created new criminal offenses relating to controlled substances. “The bill creates new criminal offenses relating to controlled substances.”
The Crist backed law made the possession of a controlled substance for the intent of distribution a 2nd degree felony. “The bill creates a new subsection in s. 893.1351 which provides that a person may not knowingly be in actual or constructive possession of any place, structure, or part thereof, trailer or any conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, or part thereof, trailer or conveyance will be used for the purpose or trafficking in a controlled substance, the sale of a controlled substance or the manufacture of a controlled substance intended for sale or distribution to another. This offense will be a second degree felony.”
The law Crist pushed also made the possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute in which a minor child lived in the residence a 1st degree felony. “The bill creates a second new subsection in s. 893.1351 F.S. which provides that a person who is found to be in actual or constructive possession of a place, structure, trailer or conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, trailer or conveyance is being used to manufacture a controlled substance intended for sale or distribution to another and who knew or should have known that a minor is present or resides in the place, structure, trailer or conveyance commits a first degree felony.”
The bill Crist pushed also determined that possession of 25 or more cannabis (marijuana) plants was proof of intent to distribute for the purpose of the felony charges. “The bill also provides that for purposes of this section, proof of the possession of 25 or more cannabis plants constitutes prima facie evidence that the cannabis is intended for sale or distribution.”
The Crist law provided maximum sentences of 15 years for cultivating the plants and 30 years for cultivating the plants in homes with children present. “The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act (HB 173) includes a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for cultivating 25 or more plants. The previous threshold for that penalty was 300 plants.
The new law also allows up to 30 years for growing 25 or more plants in a home with children present. Owning a home used for cultivating, packaging and distributing marijuana will be punishable by up to five years. ‘This law send the message loud and clear that if you grow, you go,’ said its sponsor, Rep. Nick Thompson, R-Fort Myers.” (Bill Kaczor, “Crist signs child molester, pot grow house bills,” 6/17/08)
Charlie Crist believes in nothing. He will say anything and do anything to get back on the public payroll. His draconian drug laws have ruined lives. Now, suddenly he hold himself out as a proponent of medicinal marijuana, and that’s just sad.
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