Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2018
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2018 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Dan Sweeney


Politicians may have changed their tune, but the public's feelings on
marijuana seem set in stone - Sun Sentinel

Given that former House Speaker John Boehner is now working for a
marijuana investment company and that threats by U.S. Attorney General
Jeff Sessions to crack down on legal recreational marijuana were nixed
by President Donald Trump, we asked readers whether any of them have
changed their minds recently on marijuana legalization like some
elected officials seem to have.

And the answer is no. No, you have not.

There was a variety of thought on the legalization of marijuana, but
the opinions were largely long-held ones, unchanged by the recent wave
of liberalization of state marijuana laws, which has seen at least 24
states offer medical marijuana and nine legalize the plant for
recreational use.

This became obvious with the sheer forcefulness of readers' opinions,
from those on Facebook who castigated marijuana use in general:

To those who chided the smoking ban in Florida's medical marijuana

It's worth noting that some Floridians are not letting lawmakers get
away with it -- a lawsuit centering on the smoking ban is set for May
16 in Leon County court.

Several people who have already qualified for medical marijuana wrote
in to say they were happy to no longer be living in the shadows.

"Cannabis is unique in its ability to combat PTSD, and that's an
ailment many veterans, as well as victims of violence and abuse, have
to deal with every day. I got that info from a neurologist who is
experienced at prescribing medical marijuana for PTSD, which he
diagnosed me with," emailed one reader, who asked not to be named
because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis. "I do believe that
cannabis should be legalized and regulated in a way similar to
alcohol, along with expanded research on the untapped medical promise
cannabis seems to have."

But in emails, too, long-held opinion broke both ways. One reader
forwarded an email he had originally written to NPR in 2014, in which
he wrote he had smoked marijuana heavily from about age 13 to age 45,
when he gave it up. But afterward, he had severe heart problems, and
was concerned that not enough research had been conducted into the
long-term effects of marijuana use.

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau sent
cease-and-desist letters to two South Florida breweries for their use
of cannabis terpenes oil in craft beer.

"Before advocating the unlimited, legal, smoking of pot please
consider these questions. To my knowledge there are no definitive
studies of this," wrote Boynton Beach resident Alan Liemer. "Is it
possible the voters will cause millions to suffer later in life by
their uneducated short shortsightedness? Medicare, Medicaid and
medical insurance are all hot topics today. I have cost the insurance
companies over $700,000 in care."

Research into the effects, positive or negative, of marijuana is
relatively sparse because, as a "Schedule I" controlled substance
under federal law, the federal government recognizes no medical use of
the plant, despite numerous state medical marijuana laws to the
contrary. However, with more conservatives in Washington flipping to
the other side of the debate, there has been some push in recent years
to reschedule marijuana so that it's still a controlled substance, but
not on the same level as heroin or LSD. That could open the door for
more research into marijuana's medical and long-term effects.
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