Floridian cancer patients are still seeking relief from medical cannabis

Two years after Scott’s approval of Senate Bill 1007, the controversial proposal has found its way back on Florida’s ballot in the upcoming November election.

In 2014 Republican Governor Rick Scott appeared to have a change of heart when he signed SB 1007, nicknamed Charlotte’s Web, which would have legalized the use of medical marijuana for patients who suffer from epilepsy, seizures and cancer. 


Scott said he felt empathy for patients that would benefit from the bill, but he didn’t want it to be abused.

"I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But, having seen the terrible effects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it," Scott said.

Now named SB 852 stands as an initiated constitutional amendment waiting to be voted on. Approval of this amendment could give patients and families a second chance to research more about treatment with cannabis.

In 2014 Florida reported more than 114,560 new cancer cases and 42,740 deaths, according to The American Cancer Society. Alaska, Maine and states that have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana have seen reduced rates of cancer patients that are dying compared to Florida. 

Although Scott signed the bill many patients are still without the use of medical marijuana.

October 25, 2015 was like any other day until Jeremy Anderson received an alarming call from his mom complaining of stomach pains.

Three days later doctors confirmed that the pain Jeremy’s mother Marcele Anderson had been experiencing was a result of stage 4 colon cancer.

Marcele Anderson's first question to doctors after her diagnosis was, “Will I be able to return to work?”

Friends and family members described Anderson, 54, as a caring mother, passionate educator and frequent volunteer.

“She dedicated her life giving to others,” her son Jeremy Anderson said. “She held her head down when she was told that she had to retire because of the disease.”

Although Anderson’s first thought was to be proactive, the cancer grew aggressively before she was provided a treatment plan. This caused her body to start shutting down. 

Anderson's family shares a tragic reality that many families can relate to the loss of a loved one who died from cancer. 

Jeremy said if Anderson had access to medical marijuana, her final weeks would have been less painful. 

Within one month of her diagnosis the tumor had metastasized to her liver and moved to her kidneys, causing kidney failure. 

The doctors agreed to a treatment plan of six months of aggressive chemo but surgery was not an option because the tumor was too large. 

“We reached out to additional resources such as the American Cancer Society, Colon Cancer alliance, and Cancer allegiance. We sought a second opinion by The Cancer Center for America in Atlanta my mother wasn’t opposed to other treatments.” 

However, Anderson never received an additional plan to extend her life or relieve pain. She died on Dec. 3,; a week shy of her planned second opinion with doctors.

“While my mother said she didn’t like the form of smoking, she would have rather had an alternative method of the medical marijuana.

We truly believe she would have benefitted from it,” Jeremy said.