Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2017 News-Journal Corporation
Author: Mark Lane


On medical marijuana, the public is way ahead of officialdom.

Statewide, 71 percent of Florida voters voted in favor of the medical
marijuana amendment last November. In Flagler County, the margin was
the same. In Volusia County, 73 percent voted to approve.

Overwhelming support. Particularly in a state like Florida which is
known sharp political divisions on most issues. Even so, the
Legislature was so reluctant to pass legislation putting the amendment
into effect that nothing was approved during the regular spring session.

It took a special session for a compromise to be worked out between
those who wanted very restrictive enacting legislation and those who
wanted very, very restrictive enacting legislation.

The version that passed did not allow sales of smokeable marijuana,
something drafters and supporters of the measure said the amendment
implicitly allowed for. Which is why the measure's biggest backer,
John Morgan, sued last month charging that the Legislature did not
follow the amendment's intent.

Despite the popularity of the amendment and despite the
restrictiveness of the enacting legislation cities around the state
have been quick to enact moratoriums and bans on medical marijuana
dispensaries. Many in politics and law enforcement who support the
bans seem locked in a 1980s-style War on Drugs mentality that sees
marijuana as a public danger comparable to opiates and the only way to
fight it is stay extra tough.

Some of the discussion by city officeholders wanting to ban medical
marijuana dispensaries has mixed old-fashioned “Reefer
Madness”-style drug miseducation with blithe ignorance about
what's really in the medical marijuana amendment and its enacting

They talk about people smoking pot in front of dispensary storefronts.
They talk about dispensaries as though they'd be recreational pot
cafes or return to the era of California-style nod-and-a-wink
medicinal pot shops where anyone can walk in and get a medical
marijuana card. They visualize something like 1970s head shops popping
up all over town. They even compare them to the opioid pill mills of
the past decade.

But the enacting law is strict enough that the people who supported
the amendment are already in court because it bans smokeable forms of
marijuana. (Vaping mixtures, however, would be allowed.) And doctors
are only permitted to recommend medical marijuana for serious
illnesses like epilepsy, cancer, HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic
stress disorder, ALS, Crohn's disease, and multiple sclerosis and
Parkinson's disease. No getting a card for backaches, anxiety or
feeling stressed out.

Patients are limited to a 70-day supply and must be listed on a state

Doctors who have signed up to issue the cards may not be employed or
have any financial connection to places that distribute marijuana.
There are just under 1,000 doctors registered to recommend medical pot
statewide, and as of last week, 18 were in Volusia County and two in

The good news is that some cities are reversing their previous
knee-jerk opposition to medical marijuana dispensaries.

Palm Coast was quick to enact a moratorium to keep dispensaries out.
It has extended the moratorium but now with the intention of coming up
with the right zoning regulations to accommodate them.

Likewise, Flagler Beach changed course and voted Thursday not to ban

Meanwhile, Daytona Beach, which is always OK about its heavy
concentration of bars and late nightclub hours, has suddenly become
very prim and moralistic about allowing medical marijuana to be
dispensed within its boundaries. Heavens! What would medical marijuana
dispensaries that do to Capital of Bike Week's civic image?

Daytona Beach medical marijuana cardholders would need to travel down
to Edgewater, which already is set to allow two new dispensaries.
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