Florida Marijuana
The Pros

In 2014, the initiative to legalize marijuana got 57% of the vote, just short of the super-majority – 60 percent needed to pass. Backers believe this time around they will get the votes needed to legalize it. Palmetto Bay resident Patsy Rodriguez has suffered most of her life with Multiple Sclerosis.

“Nauseous. Depression. Vomiting. Dizzy. Keep me up. The side effects are heinous. No light or heat. Wonderful to take during a heat wave in Florida,” Rodriguez said.

Patsy admits the one thing that does help is marijuana.

“Medical marijuana,” she quickly interjects.

Rodriguez is a classic example of millions of Americans who believe marijuana is medicine.

“This issue is just moving really quickly in the court of public opinion. There has been this movement statewide to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana at the county and city level,” said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for United for Care, the group who collected more than a million signatures to put medical marijuana on this year’s ballot again.

“Well first of all only in Florida is 58% a failure. We got a half million more votes than the governor was re-elected with. We won with a larger percentage of the vote than the last 10 gubernatorial elections have been decided by. Certainly presidential elections as well. But I think this is an issue with broad public support and obviously, we need 60% plus 1. And not a vote less,” Pollara said.

“We clarified who qualifies to use medical marijuana in the state of Florida. It is only for people with quote debilitating medical conditions. And we clarified the definition of what a debilitating medical condition is,” Pollara explained If the amendment passes you could expect: -Patients with Cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, ALS, AIDS, and PTSD to be eligible to use marijuana -Doctors would be allowed to prescribe marijuana within nine months.

Medical marijuana, technically, is legal in Florida. CBD is extremely low in THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people “High.” If Amendment 2 passes, marijuana with THC would be legal.

What will Floridians see? What will change? Pollara said, “I don’t think most people will see any change. Sick people will get the medicine that they need without having to be criminals. Maybe when you are on South Beach instead of a new tattoo parlor, you see a marijuana retail facility but I think by and large most people will see zero impact from this.” Already the pot industry is gearing up, expecting big demand.

When asked if he strongly believes they are going to get it legalized, this time, Pollara responded, “Yes, I really do.” For Rodriguez, it can’t happen soon enough. The other side of this debate has a lot to say about how bad medical marijuana is for Florida and why they believe you should be against it too.

The Cons

CBS4’s David Sutta recently interviewed those who helped defeat the amendment to legalize marijuana in 2014. They explained why they believe this time around the bill is just as bad. Medical marijuana supporters make their case on people like Patsy Rodriguez. She claims where prescriptions failed her but marijuana hasn’t.

If medical marijuana is truly helpinG, why not legalize it? “If you keep hearing something over and over again medical, medical, medical, we think of it’s gotta be something different. And, like I said, I did too. Until I actually started digging a little deeper and saw wait, wait, wait, no it’s not,” Spencer said.

Spencer is now leading the charge against Amendment 2, Florida’s vote this November on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

“What we know is the THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, back in the 60’s and 70’s was less than 1%. You know if you go out and Google and look at other states like California and look at other states that have marijuana, it’s upwards of 20%. We are looking at marijuana that’s 10 times more potent than what people think is safe,” said Dr. Spencer.

The “Vote No on 2 Campaign,” which is backed by a group called the Drug Free Florida Committee has put out a series of videos bashing the amendment.

“No medical training. No clinical experience. But knows a lot about pot firsthand.” you hear the announcer say.

They point out marijuana would be doled out by budtenders, not medical professionals. A video on the site highlights the stat by saying “We’ll have more pot shops than Starbucks, McDonalds, and 7-elevens combined:” “No medical training. No clinical experience. But knows a lot about pot firsthand,” you hear the announcer say.

A video on the site highlights the stat by saying, “We’ll have more pot shops than Starbucks, McDonalds, and 7-Elevens combined.” “If we already have legal substances out there that are intoxicating and problematic, we have our DUI’s, and we have our lung issues and we have our secondary issues through cigarette smoking, why would we legalize something else that we know to be an intoxicating substance, directly affect your brain and your cognitive function. Why would we legalize that,”Spencer says.

Again, the argument is for people like Patsy Rodriguez, who believes marijuana is medicine.

“The question becomes are you experiencing euphoria from the intoxicating properties that are highly potent at this point from the marijuana or are you experiencing relief,” Dr. Spencer said in reaction.

There have been a handful of polls over the last year and all of them show overwhelming support for medical marijuana. As a voter, it’s your turn to voice whether you support medical marijuana or are against it.

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