Pubdate: Wed, 20 Aug 2014
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2014 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post
Page: 3


It's not surprising that both the Florida Sheriff's Association and 
the Florida Medical Association oppose legalizing medicinal 
marijuana. Expanding public access to legal marijuana is bad for 
business. Locking people up for minor drug offenses and maintaining a 
monopoly on the bountiful pain-relief industry are two aspects of the 
status quo that law enforcement and physician groups have an interest 
in maintaining.

Sure, they dress up their concerns in different terms. But I don't buy it.

"The dangers of marijuana have been well-documented in recent years 
with increased crime and traffic accidents in states that have passed 
legislation legalizing marijuana," the Florida Sheriff's Association 
announced. "For example, of the 20 states with the highest driver 
acknowledgement of drugged driving, 15 were states that have passed 
legislation legalizing marijuana."

If that's the case, then the effects of marijuana should be most 
evident in Colorado, the first state to legalize it for recreational 
use. But the opposite appears to be happening there.

When Colorado legalized possession of marijuana for adults, there was 
a 77 percent drop in marijuana drug offenses between 2012 and 2013, 
the Denver Post reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union found 60 percent of drug arrests 
in Colorado had been for marijuana possession, and that blacks were 
arrested at nearly double the rate of whites before the drug became legal.

As for traffic safety, legalization of marijuana in Colorado has 
seemed to make the roads safer, not more dangerous.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana can stay in a person's system for as long 
as a month even though the state of inebriation lasts a matter of 
hours. So it's difficult to equate the detection of marijuana with 
driving under its influence.

This makes statistics on marijuana-related traffic crashes hard to 
measure accurately.

It's better to look at traffic fatalities in Colorado before and 
after legalization. If marijuana has made roads more dangerous, you'd 
expect to see more traffic fatalities in the state since 
legalization. But that hasn't been the case. The Colorado State 
Patrol reported the number of fatal crashes in that state dropped by 
25.5 percent from 2013 to 2014 during the first quarters of those years.

And Radley Balko of The Washington Post looked at traffic fatalities 
in Colorado during the first seven months of every year over the past 
13 years and found roadway fatalities this year are lower than last 
year, and both years are lower than the average over the past 13 years.

Could it be that the switch from alcohol to marijuana has made the 
roads safer? That fewer people are tanking up on alcohol in bars and 
then getting on the roads in states where marijuana is a legal alternative?

For reasons of control, the Florida physician's group is against 
Amendment 2, the November ballot initiative that would allow 
marijuana to be used for pain relief to treat patients for 
debilitating diseases.

"We have come together to reject an amendment that does not have the 
proper regulations in place, approves an unsafe method of drug 
delivery and puts a substance that has drug abuse potential in the 
hands of Floridians, if approved in November," Florida Medical 
Association President Alan Pillersdorf, a Palm Beach County-based 
plastic surgeon, said via statement.

Doctors are the gate-keepers for a prescription-drug industry that 
dispenses pills for pain. It's a business abused by millions of 
people, killing about 150,000 of them a year, and costing health 
insurers about $72.5 billion a year to care for excess use, according 
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What if people find safer, more effective pain relief from the 
legalized use of a plant, a plant that can be cultivated in the 
ground rather than in a lab? A plant that kills no one from overdoses 
but greatly affects the paved roads of influence built by the drug industry?

So I'm not surprised the Florida Sheriff's Association and the 
Florida Medical Association are in agreement on this issue.

Whether you're running a jail or a medical office, legalizing pot 
means fewer customers.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom