Former Florida Judge: 'I’ve Been Haunted For 30 Years' For Punishing Medical Marijuana Patients

For 30 years, former Judge Doug Bench enforced marijuana prohibition in Florida. Then a serious illness forced him to break that law in order to save his life.  

"I hated marijuana," Judge Bench confessed while discussing drug reform last year. "I hated the use of marijuana and the violation of the law."

That changed in 2015 when he was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - a life-threatening disease that Bench began illicitly treating with medical marijuana.

"I had no choice," Bench confessed. "If i wanted to live. I had to violate Florida law."

But what he regrets most is the time he spent putting "put 311 people in jail" for similar nonviolent cannabis offenses.

"I've been haunted for 30 years, wondering how many of those were using it for medical reasons," he said during the public hearing in 2017.

Now, Bench is trying to prevent others from having to break the law to get the medicine they need. He is advocating for an expansion of the Florida medical marijuana program to include conditions like COPD. Without that change, he says the state's strict marijuana regulations are essentially a death sentence for patients like him.

"If I had to medicate under Florida law, I'd be dead."


Rock icon David Crosby is not one to mince words - even when criticizing himself, which is a recurring theme in the new documentary 'David Crosby: Remember My Name.' And he's just as unapologetically candid when the cameras are off, I learned after chatting with Crosby over the phone to discuss the premiere of the doc, which opens this weekend (July 19) in New York and Los Angeles. So far, the doc has received excellent reviews from critics who find his frankness refreshing in an age when so many public figures are afraid to go off script and drop their filters. "Nobody does that anymore," Crosby told Civilized.

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