Florida puts it bluntly: Medical marijuana on the ballot

Photos by Stephanie Mason.

Destiney Burt/ Staff writer

The long battle to get medical marijuana on the Florida ballot has been won, but the controversy has only started. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow the use of marijuana if prescribed by a doctor for debilitating conditions.

This will need 60 percent of votes to pass.

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Mishka Ahmad, junior in elementary education, signed a petition to include medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot made by the students for sensible drug policy

“The U.S. could help save lives by giving Americans access to cannabis, like people who are living with debilitating diseases and mental health illnesses,” said Kelly Rodriguez, graduate student and former president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott opposes medical marijuana, while Democrats former Gov. Charlie Crist and former state Sen. Nan Rich are in support of it.

Damian Doss, a junior political science major and the treasurer of SSDP, feels that the republicans aren’t against the idea of the legalization; it’s just a party politics issue.

“The republicans introduced legislation two weeks ago to allow a certain strand of marijuana, Charlottes Web, for epileptic kids,” Doss said. “So the republicans do support medical marijuana, they just want to get it passed and claim that the republicans passed the marijuana legislation.”

Some long-term ideas of getting medical marijuana legalized are hopes that eventually Florida will legalize it for recreational use as well.

“We’ve seen it become an excuse to further the road of civil liberties. It has amounted to enormous injustices in terms of who are in prisons and why they are there,” said Sean Walsh, a professor in the Department of Politics & International Relations and SSDP faculty advisor.

SSDP President Sebastian Hernandez, a senior in psychology, noted the hefty sum to process a drug user through the criminal system.

“It’s a hefty sum to keep them in prisons and to force them through rehab programs,” Hernandez said. “All these costs are paid for by us, the taxpayers.”

According to Drug Sense, the U.S. has spent over $3 billion on the drug war this year alone.

Given that 80 percent of Florida supports the legislation, there is a possibility that medicinal marijuana will get legalized.

“I believe when Florida legalizes medicinal marijuana, it will be a breaking point in the south,” Doss said.  “We will be the first southern state to recognize marijuana for any purpose other than it being a crime.”

Washington, D.C., and 21 other states have already legalized medical use of marijuana.

There’s concern that without the legalization of medicinal marijuana there is an infringement upon our rights.

“If you’re concerned about the idea of freedom, then we should be very concerned of what’s happened with the idea of the fourth amendment,” Walsh said. [pullquote]“In terms of individual health and well being, there can’t possibly be a good excuse to tell a person who is dying of cancer ‘I’m sorry, you shouldn’t be able to smoke a joint,’” Wash said.[/pullquote]

If votes allow Florida to legalize medicinal marijuana it may be a long time before we see any legalization for recreational purposes.

“Florida is a very conservative state. We are very old fashioned so we are going to need time to make sure that the medicinal marijuana system is working. It needs to be seen as a respectable medicine,” Doss said.

Though some of these views seem positive, there are also some opposing views towards this action.

Gregory Ayres, a junior political science major, is against the gesture to get medicinal marijuana legalized.

“While some may point to purported positive effects in other states where medicinal marijuana has already been legalized, the long-term effects of these policies is yet to be seen,” Ayres said. “Therefore, a cautious approach is taken toward any new policies that only decades ago where unthinkable to the public at large.”

Ayres said there’s a community of people who “logically fear that this could lead to the proliferation of the drug and consequently increased exposure of previously banned substances.”

Voters will cast their ballots in November.

Additional reporting by Associated Press. 

– destiney.burt@fiusm.com

2 Comments on "Florida puts it bluntly: Medical marijuana on the ballot"

  1. When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let’s have the compassion to allow them to have it.

    Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

    Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

    Support Medical Marijuana Now!

    “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

    “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

    “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

    “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

    “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

    “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

    “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

    “[The LFA] urges Congress and the President to enact legislation to reschedule marijuana to allow doctors to prescribe smokable marijuana to patients in need … [and] urges the US Public Health Service to allow limited access to medicinal marijuana by promptly reopening the Investigational New Drug compassionate access program to new applicants.” — Lymphoma Foundation of America, January 20, 1997

  2. BossIlluminati | January 31, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Reply

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state,
    lol…

    love and freedom forever

    MARIJUANA SUPER BOWL 2014, free state vs. free state, destiny

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

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