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Democrats' Bill Anticipates Marijuana Legalization, Sets Reefer Framework

Stan Jastrzebski

Democratic lawmakers have drafted a 150-page primer for how the state should regulate medical marijuana if its use is approved by voters in the fall. But if their bill is passed, Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) and Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) may have to answer to those in their party hoping marijuana voters are also Democratic voters. Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) stood up for his colleagues, but did allow that some members of his party are privately cringing.

“You have a lot of Democrats who may see it as a political advantage, but you have more Democrats that see it as the right thing to do and the right time is now,” Smith says.

Clemens shrugged off the possibility his bill would hurt his party’s chances.

“The legislation will have already been enacted. So I don’t see it as becoming a big driver in terms of people coming out to vote as some people seem to think it is,” he says.

But the bill must first find support in the majority Republican Legislature and win the signature of Governor Rick Scott, who’s been publicly vocal in recent weeks about his disdain for medical marijuana.