(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of profiles focusing on women who actively support medical cannabis.)
In the 1960s, many people would have called Dana Moxley Cummings a “radical.” Others might have called her far worse.
Her Twitter page provides a very short self-description: “Executive Director of Florida Libertarian PAC. Lyme Survivor. Homebirther. Civil Disobeyer. Defender of Cannabis, Free Markets. Opposer of DEA, CDC, IRS, FDA.”
So when I interviewed her last month, I had to ask: “Dana, you don’t like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You don’t like the Food & Drug Administration. What do you like?”
The former chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida — and a longtime cannabis activist — replies, “I don’t like big government. I like local government. Government is best that governs least. The more local, the better.”
Dana Moxley Cummings is Outspoken
Now serving as executive director of the Florida Libertarian Party’s Political Action Committee, Dana is not known to mince words. She doesn’t seem bothered that we’re sitting in a busy McDonald’s off Interstate 75 near Land o’ Lakes, where she lives, while I’m doing the interview and shooting photos. The fast-food restaurant is on the property of Tampa Premium Outlets but in a stand-alone building outside the huge mall.
The last time I met and interviewed her, in summer 2016, we were in historic Ybor City, east of Tampa — a far more scenic setting — at an educational event sponsored by the Florida Cannabis Coalition. While delivering her talk, “The Economic Impact of the Cannabis Industry in Florida,” and afterward, Dana was as animated then as she is now.
She is not yet a medical-cannabis patient herself, even though she contracted Lyme disease while living in Tallahassee. Because the capital is not known for having the ticks that cause the disease, Dana wasn’t diagnosed. So the disease caused more damage than it otherwise might have; worse, its fever, joint pains and headaches can recur years later.
“Follow the money”
Despite her strong opinions and outspoken nature, Dana is complimentary about certain politicians, especially those in Tallahassee. She spent 15 years living there, sometimes working as a political aide.
“There are some good people with good intentions (in Tallahassee). Not everyone is bad. But so much money flows up there,” she says. “If you want to know who’s pulling the strings, follow the money. If you find the source, you find the answer.”
Dana comes by her libertarian attitude rightly. Her father, who graduated from high school in 1969, was drafted for Vietnam but didn’t enlist. Her mom — “like (supermodel) Twiggy, she was tall and thin” — had graduated in 1967. “Mom said, ‘I’m not wearing a bra.’ And she didn’t. They brought me up to question authority.”
In college, Dana didn’t exactly chart a course that ensured quick graduation: “I changed my major eight times. But I learned a lot with each major.” She eventually graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology.
A contrarian as well as a libertarian
In one of her classes, the professor asked the students, “‘You see babies floating down a river. What should you do?’ Most of the students answered ‘Save the babies in the river.’ I said ‘Forget those babies. Go upstream and find out who’s throwing the babies in the river.'”
Dana Moxley Cummings has a husband, Ryan; and two children: daughter Kaydence, 6, whom she home-schools; and son Kyler, 1.
She’s happy that a much wider pool of patients now has access to medical cannabis, due to the passage of Amendment 2. “It was important to get this crack in the wall. Cannabis is now out in the open. Eventually, I hope people will not be afraid to admit ‘I use cannabis.'”
But, like many others, Dana is concerned that the Florida Legislature, whose regular session begins March 7, will enact more-stringent laws regarding medical cannabis than she would like. (In addition, the state Department of Health must write rules and regulations that will govern the use of medical cannabis.)
“Right now, no one knows what the medical-cannabis laws will look like,” Dana explains. “But that’s OK, because now, cannabis is out in the open. And if we don’t like what the politicians do, we can vote them out.”
Though she denies being a conspiracy theorist, she can’t resist a parting shot. Not far away, a few towers line the perimeter of the 441,000-square-foot outdoor mall.
Says Dana, pointing, “That place could be used as a detention center. It’s all open inside. The towers could be used to watch people in there.”
For more information on the Florida Libertarian PAC, visit www.floridalibertarianpac.com.