Medicinal marijuana is now legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The turning tide has now set its sights on another state. With Election Day quickly approaching, supporters and activists in Florida have been busy rallying to gain the necessary 60 percent of votes for the statewide initiative to legalize the use of medical cannabis. Their optimism is not unfounded.
A whopping 70+ percent of those polled are in support of the initiative. Pretty impressive for what is largely considered to be a conservative state. However, there are particular populations in Florida who would naturally be marijuana friendly. Miami and the Keys are full of folks who made their fortunes off of a thriving cocaine/marijuana trafficking industry, particularly in the 1980’s. Gainesville, home of the University of Florida Gators, is famous amongst the grass crowd for its’ “Gainesville Green.” Plus, the Rainbow Family of Living Light has quite a few “members” who call Ocala and its’ surrounding areas home.
To organize these disparate groups and other marijuana defenders into one cohesive unit, United For Care: People United For Medical Marijuana is working to guarantee that those who say they support the initiative will actually prove they support it by casting their votes.
These efforts are well-funded and organized. This is more than can be said of the other side. The opposition to the initiative is passionate, but they lack the backing required to make this a true battle for votes. As well, a big problem for them is their stale, misinformed message. Anyone who was ever on the fence about the issue and then educated themselves has already shown support for the legalization of medical cannabis. What the opposition is left with are those who are staunchly anti-drug at any time ever in anyone’s life. Frankly, these folks are going the way of the Do-Do Bird.
Telling voters that legalizing medicinal marijuana is basically legalizing it for everyone, including children, is reactionary at best. Plus, the “gateway” argument has been debunked by the scientific community, sociologists and even four years ago, Time Magazine ran an article about the false argument. Whether the anti-drug groups like it or not, the support for medicinal cannabis in Florida is gaining headway and quickly.
There is a school in Jacksonville, Florida that may be the ultimate proof that the state is ready for the legalization of medical marijuana. The Cannabis Career Institute (CCI), established in March of 2009, is an institute of higher learning that focuses on careers in the medical cannabis industry. Modeled after Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, CCI offers courses in everything from owning and operating a growing facility to managing a dispensary. There are classes in edibles, legalities and delivery. CCI prides itself on hiring only the most qualified and experienced faculty and staff to teach and work with the students. This school has its’ finger on the pulse of the future.
At the very least, even among those who do not think people should be allowed to casually enjoy the benefits of a puff of marijuana, there is a large number who have enough compassion to realize the value and benefit of medicinal quality marijuana. If the use of the plant can ease someone’s suffering who is faced with daily pain, side-effects of pharmaceuticals, nerve damage, etc. (the list is long), then there should be no argument. Seeing Florida gain support for the legalization of medical cannabis gives hope for the other half of the country; for those who are still waiting for their turn.
By Stacy Lamy