The mother of a 9-year-old boy with an extreme seizure condition plans to move from Florida to Colorado after her state failed to pass a medical marijuana bill this week.
Stephanie Ramey believes her son J.T. would benefit from Charlotte's Web, a strain of marijuana with low amounts of THC, the main psychoactive chemical in the drug. "As a parent, watching your child suffer is the worst feeling in the world," she told First Coast News.
For a time, it appeared the Florida legislature might deliver on a solution. Legislators passed a bill last year that would have legalized low-THC medical marijuana in the state, but regulatory problems required the legislature to pass a "glitch bill" during this session.
Lawmakers suddenly ended the legislative session last week, however, amid gridlock over a possible Medicaid expansion. While they're likely to meet at a special session in June, the medical marijuana bill could be dead until next year.
Ramey is fed up with the delays and intends to move to Colorado to find the medical she believes could help her son. She's set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $10,000.
Ramey told First Coast News that Florida legislators were being "lazy" and "irresponsible" by ignoring the medical marijuana bill.
"We have to completely uproot our lives," she said.
Meanwhile, marijuana appears to be available to young people in Florida — they just need to find it on the black market.
Cannabis was the most commonly reported drug in schools during the school years ending in 2013 and 2014, WPLG reports, citing records from the Florida Department of Education. The records show more students are reported for weed than for tobacco.
The data fits a countrywide trend: marijuana is by far the most popular illicit drug among young people.
According to a survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), just under 12 percent of eighth graders said they used it in 2014. High school seniors were even more likely to have consumed cannabis, with 35 percent reporting use. Among those seniors, Adderall was a distant second, with roughly 7 percent using the drug without a prescription in the last year.
In Florida, the schools with the highest numbers of drug reports seemed to focus largely on marijuana. The Broward school district, for instance, filed 859 drug-related reports in the school year ending in 2014. Of those, 92 percent were for weed.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.