Pubdate: Thu, 07 Oct 2010
Source: Miami New Times (FL)
Copyright: 2010 New Times, Inc.
Author: Francisco Alvarado


The Sunshine State Has the Nation's Stiffest Pot Penalties, but 
Everyone Seems to Be Lighting Up

Florida and California have a lot in common.

Both states have great weather, sunny beaches, and an abundance of

Except the Golden State is far more accepting of residents who spark
up. California was the first state to legalize marijuana use for
medicinal purposes in 1996. Thirteen states have followed Cali's lead.
And this November, California voters will have the historic
opportunity to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a move that
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature hope will
generate $1 billion in annual tax revenue.

If the measure succeeds, Florida is in trouble.

Despite being the number one producer of indoor-grown, highly potent
ganja, the Sunshine State has the harshest criminal penalties for
marijuana possession and trafficking in the nation.

Just holding an ounce of weed is considered a felony that carries a
maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Two years ago, Gov. Charlie Crist signed the Florida Marijuana Grow
House Eradication Act, which made it easier for law enforcement
officials to charge marijuana growers, even those with just one plant,
with drug trafficking. And during the recently completed legislative
session, state senators and representatives unanimously voted to ban
the sale of bongs at head shops across the state.

Yet there is no evidence these tough laws have decreased marijuana use
among Floridians.

In fact, Florida would be better off mimicking California, which will
reap the benefits of legalization well past its borders.

According to a study completed this past June by the RAND Drug Policy
Research Center, the largest state in the union could dramatically
increase tax revenues through marijuana exports to the other 48
mainland states, which have about six times the number of marijuana
users as the Golden State. The RAND report concludes that,
post-legalization, California-grown sinsemilla would be more
competitively priced (an estimated $1,250 per pound wholesale) than
Florida-grown sinsemilla (which averages $3,500 to $4,500 per pound
wholesale). If it were to legalize marijuana, the Sunshine State would
dominate the market throughout the East Coast.

To show it's high time Florida embrace Mary Jane, Miami New Times has
compiled extensive research presented in an easy-to-read format that
even the most absent-minded stoner can decipher.

We chronicle the voter petition drive in Miami Beach to allow cops to
issue tickets instead of tossing people in jail for small amounts of

You will learn about a Fort Lauderdale executive who is one of only
two people in the nation who gets weed from the federal government to
treat his rare bone disease. We'll show how state law enforcement
officials are losing their war against Florida grow houses, introduce
you to a few famous people who have toked, reveal the key dates in pot
history, and let some simple facts make the case. 
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