Medical Marijuana Fights in Florida

medical marijuana

Florida’s medical marijuana fight is going into high gear. The state is nearing a vote to amend its constitution with poll numbers indicating that victory is possible. However, forces are moving against the initiative.

The Florida Sherriff’s Association (FSA) is coming out against the medication and high schoolers are finding that their freedom of speech does not extend to viable medical treatments. At a time when therapeutic cannabis is more and more the norm, when states like Oregon, California, and Colorado have dispensaries up and running, Florida must still work out its own way of approaching the issue.

Though there is no evidence that medical marijuana has any negative impact on crime rates, the FSA persists in pushing its opinion that dispensaries will cause a social ill. While offering no solid facts, FSA President Grady Judd claims that Florida teens will suddenly have easier access to the plant. This position comes in conflict with logic, which would show that regulating a substance in a legal construct would make it more difficult to obtain. When cannabis is only available on the black market, there are few restraints on purchasing it. The substance would then possibly be sold next to addictive substances such as cocaine or heroin.

The FSA’s statements mirror a statement by Mendocino County, Calif. Sherrif Tom Allman who warned Colorado that violent criminals would be on the rampage, breaking into homes with the intent of stealing their marijuana. Colorado has seen no such phenomenon and Allman’s statement is left sounding rather alarmist and verging on self-parody. Proponents of medical marijuana equate Allman’s statement to the hysteria fomented by the Reefer Madness propaganda of the early 20th century.

In fact, a recent study found that medical marijuana had a dampening effect on crime. The Denver Police Department noticed a drop in crime after Colorado legalized not only medical marijuana, but recreational pot, as well. According to the DPD, Violent crime showed a 6.9 percent decrease in the first quarter of 2014.

Another study, published by PLOS One, looked at crime and medical marijuana since 1990, when California first allowed legal use of the plant for medical use. That study showed no correlation between legal access to plant medicines and crime. With such information so widely available, it’s a wonder that the FSA has taken such a radical stance and continues to fight medical marijuana in Florida.

Despite the constant stream of medical marijuana pieces in the mainstream media, a Florida high schooler is having to fight to have an article on the subject appear in her school’s newspaper. Abbey Lane, 18, is a cancer survivor who researched and wrote an article only to have its publication stymied both by the newspaper’s faculty advisor but also by her principal. Her fight continues, bringing the issue into higher and higher relief at it garners national attention.

The more anti-cannabis forces continue to fight in Florida, the more the attention will fall on facts and data regarding medical marijuana. With the ease of dispersal via the Internet, the truths of the issue will begin to be unavoidable and Florida voters will be armed with the facts when they enter the polling place to vote.

By Hobie Anthony

Orlando Sentinel
Tampa Bay Times

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