FLORIDA: E. Ronal Mudd was a Methodist chaplain who helped open Florida’s first hospice in Jacksonville, then became a cancer patient in it.
By 1984, Mudd’s final weeks were consumed with just trying to keep his food down. He asked a friend to get him some marijuana.
That friend was Don Gaetz, now the Republican Florida Senate president.
“The quality of his life was undermined by this intense nausea,” Gaetz recalls. “Ron Mudd said to me, ‘I understand that marijuana might help; can you get me some?’ And I did, and it helped.”
The story of how the Panhandle politician broke the law to help a dying friend illustrates how more conservative Republicans — much like Americans generally — are moderating their views about marijuana’s medicinal value.
In Gaetz’s case, it’s a family affair. His son, a member of the Florida House, is pushing a bill to legalize a noneuphoric version of the drug called “Charlotte’s Web” that could help some epileptic children with seizures.