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Marijuana Legalization in Florida gains support in State

Should Florida legalize the medical marijuana?

Recent reports in Florida indicate that up to 70 percent of Florida voters would support a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. Up to 24% of voters oppose the measure. Reports also indicate there may be growing support among Republicans which may be enough to move the Republican controlled Florida legislature as well as the Republican governor to approve the idea. Proponents of the new amendment hope to get the proposal on a 2014 ballot. A group within the legislature led by State Jeff Clemens, however, is working to get the legislation reviewed sooner. If the laws are updated in Florida they would join eighteen states and the District of Columbia who have adopted medical marijuana laws. Colorado and the State of Washington legalized its recreational use in November of last year.

What do the supporters say about the legalization of Marijuana?

Supporters of the legalization point to its medicinal benefits. Cannabis is a muscle relaxant, anti-depressant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also has helped some patients regain their appetite. Currently the drug is used by suffers of a variety of serious diseases such as ALS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Proponents argue that legalization would be “humane and reasonable.” Legalization, according to proponents, would create a framework for the operation of farms and establish a clear understanding of how many plants each patient could grow. Admittedly there would have to be strict prohibitions to eliminate abuse of the system. Proposals would most likely mirror other state’s laws which allow patients with specified medical conditions who are under a doctor's care to possess 4 ounces of dried cannabis or eight marijuana plants. How will the measure get on the ballot? Supporters will have to collect the 683,149 valid signatures of Florida voters on citizen petitions in order to place an amendment proposal on the 2014 ballot. After the measure is put on the ballot the legislature will most likely allow the voters to decide.

What do the opponents say about the legalization of Marijuana?

There are several reasons there is strong opposition to the legalization of marijuana. Some argue we only need to look towards Amsterdam to find out what happens when cities and states begin to legalize drugs. It’s too soon to tell, but Colorado and Washington may find that their cities are beginning to attract a not so industrious citizen and visitor. Next, how will the legalization of marijuana impact the economy and existing businesses? It may be too early to tell, but there could be an increase in the rate of absenteeism, industrial accidents and tardiness as well as less productivity with a potential work force regularly using marijuana. Proponents also don’t talk about the potential funds needed to treat users who become addicted to other drugs. There are collateral costs to our communities which we do not fully understand. Will more people become addicted to drugs? Will treatment and addictions rate increase and how will this affect our educational environment as we attempt to move a generation of youth into a healthy and successful future. What happens when 20 to 30% of teenagers become regular marijuana users? If our “greatest natural resource is the mind of our children” what happens when those minds lack concentration, memory, brain development?