Is Florida Ready for Legalized Medical Marijuana? Don't Bet on It

Medical-Marijuana.jpgThirty-nine days from today, on Nov. 4, Florida could become the 24th state and the first Southern state to legalize the medical use of marijuana.
But don't bet on it, even after voters in 23 other states and the District of Columbia already have approved the use and sale of medical pot.
There are more drug policy reform questions on the ballot this November than ever in American history. Big money, big business and big reputations are on the line across the country.
A major hurdle for the pro-marijuanas in Florida will be to garner a 60% yes vote to pass the voter initiative.
In Florida, Amendment 2 is the only statewide medical marijuana initiative on the ballot this year.
Besides Florida, voters on Nov. 4 in six other states, 17 municipalities and one U.S. territory will decide on reforming or repealing marijuana laws in their jurisdictions.
Yet while various current public polls indicate the for-marijuana movement is ahead of the naysayers, millions are being spent by the giant pharmaceutical companies and wealthy individuals to defeat the amendment.
For example, critics points out Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul who has tried repeatedly over the years to gain casino rights in Florida, already has thrown an estimated $5 million in the campaign to persuade Tallahassee legislators to block any pro-medical marijuana initiatives either now or in the immediate future.
Interestingly, Gov. Rick Scott and his opponent in the Nov. 4 gubernatorial race, Charlie Crist, both favor the medical marijuana movement to a limited degree. However, Casino owner Adelson dislikes Crist and that's the reason, he says, his money is on the table to defeat the marijuana side.
Jeb Bush, a member of the illustrious Bush political clan and a rumored Republican Party presidential nominee in 2016, also is against the use of medical pot.
That's politics for you and that's why the pro-marijuanas won't make it to the finish line, this year at least.  But their day is coming, as more states and local jurisdictions continue to assess the pros and cons of medical marijuana.
In Florida alone, Orlando multi-millionaire lawyer and business entrepreneur John Morgan already has shelled out an estimated $4.5 million of his own money to back the pro-marijuana activists.
He argues Big Pharma wants to shoot down the medical marijuana movement so that drug manufacturers can continue to peddle strong and expensive prescription pain killers.
Besides his own personal belief in the wide-spread benefits of medical marijuana, Morgan has his own family as proof pot works in controlled medical situations.
Morgan's father used marijuana in his final days to ease the pain from esophageal cancer and emphysema attacks. Morgan's brother, Tim, a quadriplegic, also uses medical marijuana for pain relief.
While the pros and cons on medical marijuana use in Florida will continue right up to voting day in November, it is interesting to note that several anti-marijuanas say they don't like the pot measure primarily because there are loopholes in the way the Amendment has been written.
For example, points out Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, one of the biggest opponents of Amendment 2, the ballot language includes the term, 'other conditions,' for the use of marijuana.  That could open the door for unlimited and suspected physical and mental ailments.
Judd suggests more research is needed before the pro-marijuana movement could succeed.
The Lakeland Ledger, in reporting recent and current town hall-type discussions among pro and con marijuana groups, cites the apparent benefits of marijuana for Ira Rosenfeld, a Miami-area stockbroker.
The newspaper reports Rosenfeld was one of only two persons in the United States legally allowed to use medical marijuana through a Federal compassionate care program. That program has been discontinued.
At a Lakeland, FL public discussion event, Rosenfeld told the audience he had been smoking 10 marijuana cigarettes a day for several years to ease the pain and spasms suffered from his incurable bone disease.
So far, medical marijuana is legal in these states:
Alaska 1998; Arizona 2010; California 1996; Colorado 2000; Connecticut 2012; District of Columbia 2010; Delaware 2011; Hawaii 2000; Illinois 2013; Maine 1999; Maryland 2014; Massachusetts 2012; Michigan 2008; Minnesota 2014; Montana 2004; Nevada 2000; New Hampshire 2013; New Jersey 2010; New Mexico 2007; New York 2014; Oregon 1998; Rhode Island 2006; Vermont 2004; and Washington 1998.  

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