TAMPA -- Four years ago, Bree Morris faced a choice between pain relief
and being close to family.
Permanently disabled from a car crash that injured her back, Morris, 53,
moved from Florida to Colorado after voters here rejected a medical
marijuana referendum in 2012. She left her children and grandchildren with
a hunch that access to medical cannabis in Colorado would work better than
the opiates that had turned her into a "zombie."
"From that day on, my quality of life changed," she said. "I started doing
walks around the park. I started feeling better about life. I'm able to
talk and be alert and do things and even go back to school to earn my
[continues 616 words]
Caption Davie imposes temporary moratorium on medical marijuana centers
Florida health officials have started the rules-making process that will
expand those eligible to receive medical marijuana.
The Department of Health on Tuesday published the proposed rules and
announced that public hearings will be held in five cities Feb. 6-9.
Patients with one of 10 medical conditions will be able to receive medical
marijuana but it does not allow for more distributing organizations. There
are currently seven licensed, with one more case under an administrative
[continues 51 words]
Dr. [name redacted], 50, of Parkland, was arrested Wednesday on
prescription drug allegations at his Wilton Manors practice, according to
the Drug Enforcement Administration. (Sun Sentinel / Drug Enforcement
A Broward doctor and his medical assistant were arrested on prescription
drug charges Wednesday, according to the federal Drug Enforcement
Dr. [name redacted], 50, of Parkland, was arrested after a six-month
investigation that showed he illegally supplied methamphetamine to some of
his patients at his Wilton Manors practice, authorities said. He is also
accused of dispensing medically unnecessary prescriptions to use with the
methamphetamine "to further enhance the patient's altered state of mind,"
[continues 120 words]
TALLAHASSEE -- Even as the state prepares to carry out a constitutional
amendment authorizing medical marijuana, a lack of guidance from health
officials could create a "very murky and dangerous legal area" for
patients and doctors.
Authors of the amendment, industry insiders and legislative leaders have
called on the Department of Health to clarify what doctors and dispensing
organizations can legally do under existing state laws and the
voter-approved amendment that went into effect Tuesday.
To date, the health agency has remained mum, referring only to the
language of the constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters
in November and to state laws approved in 2014 and 2016.
[continues 347 words]
Officials were expecting the measure to go before the County Commission in
February or March. But several things have changed since the county's
Public Safety Coordinating Council passed a version of the bill in August,
and officials from at least two of the county's cities are opposed to
opting in should the county pass an ordinance. Matt Bruce @Matt_BruceDBNJ
It's been about five months since Flagler County leaders last discussed
the prospect of a proposed countywide adult civil citation ordinance that
could give law enforcement the discretion to cite rather than arrest
people caught with small amounts of marijuana.
[continues 591 words]
[photo] Oxycodone pain pills.
It took a lot of convincing for John Evard to go to rehab. Seven days into
his stay at the Las Vegas Recovery Center, the nausea and aching muscles
of opioid withdrawal were finally beginning to fade.
"Any sweats?" a nurse asked him as she adjusted his blood pressure cuff.
"Last night it was really bad, but not since I got up," replied Evard, 70,
explaining that he'd awakened several times with his sheets drenched.
Even for him, it was hard to understand how he ended up 300 miles away
from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., at this bucolic facility in the
suburbs of Vegas. "This is the absolute first time I ever had anything
close to addiction," he said. He prefers to use the term "complex
dependence" to describe his situation: "It was, shall we say, a big
surprise when it happened to me."
[continues 976 words]
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Dr. Joseph Dorn has had a unique vantage
point when it comes to the burgeoning medical marijuana industry in
Dorn was the medical director of Surterra Therapeutics, which is one
of the six dispensing organizations licensed to grow and distribute
medical cannabis in the state. He resigned from that position two
months ago and has opened a medical marijuana treatment center as
Amendment 2 takes effect on Tuesday.
The constitutional amendment, which was approved by 71 percent of
Florida voters, allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a
wider list of medical ailments. However, the true measure of what the
amendment means won't be immediately seen until a new set of rules are
adopted and implemented by the Florida Legislature and the Department
[continues 558 words]
Kudos for pot vote
Mayor Buddy Dyer and the city of Orlando recently passed, 4-3, the initial
vote to deprioritize arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
I'm thankful for Dyer and Commissioners Regina Hill, Patty Sheehan and
Robert Stuart for their support of the ordinance. I, unfortunately, left
the City Council meeting feeling disappointed in Commissioner Samuel Ings
for voting against it.
We live in a society where young black men and boys have been a target of
the war on drugs. Ings argues that this policy would tarnish the image of
Orlando as a family vacation destination.
[continues 78 words]
Would-be medical marijuana entrepreneurs face months of waiting and an
unknown number of rules and regulations
With the passage of the medical marijuana amendment, would-be pot-shop
proprietors looking to get in on the ground floor of Florida's Green Rush
are in for months of waiting and an uncertain regulatory future.
Amendment 2, passed with 71 percent of the vote, will broaden the number
of patients who qualify for full-strength medical marijuana to include
sufferers of HIV/AIDS, cancer, PTSD, ALS and a number of other ailments.
[continues 854 words]
It can be bought online and shipped to your doorstep, like shoes from
Zappos or a mystery novel from Amazon. It's cheap, just $40 for a gram.
Nicknames: pink, U4. Potency: eight times more powerful than morphine.
Death toll: at least 50 and counting.
Two recent casualties should be incentive enough to clamp down on the
drug's availability and the people who profit from it. Best friends
Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth from Park City, Utah, got their hands
on the drug, formally named U-47700, through a teenage friend who
bought it online from a company in Shanghai. Both Seaver and Ainsworth
were 13. Grant's parents found him dead from an overdose of pink Sept.
11. Two days later, Ryan's father found his son dead on the couch.
[continues 432 words]
The last time Floridians faced the subject of medical marijuana on the
ballot, the measure just barely failed to garner enough support needed
to become law.
This time appears to be different. There's still resistance, but the
large wave of criticism from various groups like the Florida Sheriff's
Association is gone. Polls indicate the ballot measure again named
Amendment 2 appears to be coasting toward passage.
The most recent survey released by the University of North Florida
indicates 73 percent of voters approve of the amendment, significantly
more than the 60 percent needed for it to become law. Backers of the
Amendment say stripping away the so-called loopholes and timing is
[continues 964 words]
The only sure way to know if the dire warnings against Amendment 2
(medical marijuana) will happen is to vote it in and find out.
Fortunately for Florida, other states have already done that. The four
states where marijuana is fully legal began with medical marijuana
about 15 years before. Those years of experience told voters that the
dire predictions were wrong.
Amendment 2 is tightly written, with many safeguards, including room for
the Legislature to act. Floridians are beneficiaries of the 'laboratory
of the states.' If Amendment 2 passes and does not live up to its
hoped-for benefits, Floridians will surely reject full legalization.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
Brightly lit and bustling, Harborside Health Center serves as
something of a model for the medical marijuana industry - even as
California's freewheeling approach to cannabis is seen as an example
of how not to do things.
As dozens of customers at Harborside pick their products, chatty
budtenders talk knowledgeably about the selection, which includes
cannabis for smoking, eating and vaporizing.
Business is booming: Between this store in Oakland and another
location in San Jose, Harborside's sales total $35 million a year.
Sales are so strong that Harborside offers free yoga, tai chi and
acupuncture to its customers, who must have a doctor's permission to
enter the store.
[continues 970 words]
A Mother Risks Prison and Splits Up Her Family in a Desperate Attempt
to Rid Her Son of Cancer.
The Rockies unfurled outside Kristen Yeckley's passenger window, but
she kept her eyes on the speedometer. No more than 5 mph over the
limit, she urged her mother. Hands at 10 and 2. She had stayed up
past 3 a.m., sobbing, praying, plotting the route back to Pinellas
Park. The drive meant committing a federal crime with her 5-year-old
son in the backseat. Kristen kept imagining handcuffs, the fear on
Tyler's trusting face. If they were pulled over, she would use his
medical records to plead for sympathy. She and her husband, Joe, had
saved up for their dream home with a backyard pool. They had
comfortable jobs, poker nights, a college fund in their son's
name. Then came Tyler's diagnosis. When doctors said he was out of
options, Kristen and Joe vowed to do anything, even split up their
family, to give Tyler a chance with a treatment Florida doesn't
allow. That brought Kristen to the sloping road out of Colorado last
summer, 2,000 miles from home - with vials of liquid medical
marijuana buried in her mother's suitcase. Worry first tugged at
Kristen in the line to see Santa Claus.
[continues 4161 words]
In 2009, when Ricky Williams studied as a masseuse and gaveme a
Japanese shiatsu massage, the subject of marijuana came up-this is
where conversations could go during deep-tissue revitalization with
Ricky- and he said something ahead of its time. "Why does the NFL
even care about catching players smoking pot?" he said. "How does
that benefit anyone?"
Have we advanced enough to ask this in 2016?
Ricky's affinity for the herb led to suspensions, contributed to
failed Dolphins seasons and has moved him to being a
life-after-football spokesman for pot's benefits.
[continues 681 words]
Re Mark Wilson's July 28 letter, "Florida does not need 2,000 'pot
shops' ": It seems that the only devastating effects should Amendment
2, legalizing medical marijuana, will be that hundreds of thousands
of suffering Floridians will get relief from cheap natural plants
that won't cost $50 a pill and come with a list of hazardous side
effects a mile long.
I'm sure the Florida Chamber of Commerce's mission of promoting good
private-sector jobs supports the sale of tobacco, which kills half a
million Americans annually just as sure as the sun rises and sets.
How's that for devastating?
And I'm guessing the chamber's position is with the frackers in
adding more carcinogens to our drinking water because it creates
jobs. Forget people's health and safety. Millions will suffer
illness, and many will get cancer.
Art Levy, Key Biscayne
Dispensaries Say Local Officials Wary of New Business.
As pot shops start to sprout in Florida, cities are struggling with
how - or whether - to regulate the state's new marijuana industry.
This week, the state's first medical-marijuana dispensary, operated
by Trulieve, opened its doors to customers in Tallahassee. Health
officials Wednesday gave the go-ahead to a second group, Surterra, to
start distributing its cannabis products. Both marijuana operators
have permission to deliver products statewide, and Surterra plans to
open a dispensary next month in Tampa.
[continues 555 words]
Far be it for me to disagree with the Capital Curmudgeon, but I must
take issue that Florida will not be California when it comes to
medical marijuana. Of course not - Florida was merely the pill mill
capital of the nation with criminal medical professionals complicit
in the schemes.
With medical marijuana, Florida will be much worse! I foresee many
more than the 2,000 pot shops predicted by the Florida Department of
Health should this amendment pass.
Even if Florida only becomes like Colorado (that has seen youth use
of pot skyrocket since their laws passed), our youth gain tremendous
access to potent cannabis - not that weak version from the '60s.
[continues 59 words]
TALLAHASSEE - Marijuana was sold legally in Florida for the first
time this week since it was outlawed by the federal government in 1937.
In a staid Tallahassee storefront more akin to a doctor's office than
a head shop, Dallas Nagy, a Tampa-area native with chronic seizures
and muscle spasms, plunked down $60 for a non-euphoric strain of
"I thank you for the hope of getting better," Nagy said at the
opening of Trulieve, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state.
[continues 797 words]
The answer to sustaining Social Security and possibly paying down the
national debt is very simple. Legalize marijuana and don't tax it but
let the government produce and sell it as a government-run business.
It's going to be legalized in all the states eventually anyway, so
why not use it for some good. Farmland now sitting idle could be put
to use. Thousands of jobs would be created, and profits could be used
to help feed the hungry in our country and save Social Social Security.
Jim Baker, Hollywood
TALLAHASSEE- The first medical marijuana will be available in Florida
Trulieve, a grower and dispensary based in Tallahassee, said
Wednesday that it has received permission from the Department of
Health to start selling a strain of the drug low in THC, the chemical
that causes a euphoric high. The Florida Legislature in 2014
legalized that variety of cannabis as a medical option for children
with severe epilepsy and cancer. This is the first dispensing license
fromthe state health department, Trulieve says. "We are happy to
announce that we have passed all inspections-from growing and
processing to dispensing- and are the very first medical cannabis
provider in the state to receive these formal authorizations,"
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement.
[continues 163 words]
TALLAHASSEE (AP) - Florida's first legal harvest of marijuana is
stored in multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the
outskirts of Tallahassee.
Each is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing,
and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen
by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards.
This is one of two production facilities run by Surterra
Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to
grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.
[continues 559 words]
The whole escalation of violence - cop on citizen and citizen on cop-
has been escalated by the so-called"war on drugs." Back in the day,
police were instructed to aggressively pursue drug "crimes."
Authorities profited from this strategy, politically and economically
(seizure law). This tough love approach has not worked for 60 years,
maybe more. You can't help someone who doesn't want help (drug users
Consequently, whenever a cop draws a gun on a person holding a couple
of grams of some outlawed substance, violence is possible.
Stop this insanity. Take the money and flesh wasted on this useless
"war" and put it into social help and education. We'll all be better
off for it-especially the police.
Kevin Campfield, Delray Beach
Orlando commissioners voted to approve a temporary moratorium on
marijuana dispensaries in the city Monday, months before Florida
voters will again weigh in on medical uses for the drug.
The City Council vote comes after three would-be sellers of either
medicinal marijuana or the low-THC oil known as Charlotte's Web have
recently expressed interest in Orlando storefronts where current
zoning would allow them.
"We're not trying to keep them from doing business in the city,"
District 3 City Commissioner Robert Stuart said Monday. "We're
looking at: What are the boundaries in which they would do that?"
[continues 381 words]
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's first legal harvest of marijuana is stored in
multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the outskirts
Each is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing,
and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen
by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards.
This is one of two production facilities operated by Surterra
Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to
grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.
[continues 1840 words]
The 1936 film "Reefer Madness" wound up becoming a campy cult classic
because the movie, originally designed as a warning about the dangers
of marijuana use, so overdramatized the issue that it's message
simply couldn't be taken seriously.
Now, with a slew of new polls showing Floridians overwhelmingly
support the legalization of medical marijuana, opponents of Amendment
2 - the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical pot -
are themselves edging closer to unintentional satire.
The "Vote No on 2" campaign has launched a series of broadsides,
including a recent video warning darkly that if the measure passes,
up to 5,000 marijuana dispensaries could open across Florida, more
pot shops than McDonald's, 7-Eleven and Starbucks combined.
[continues 479 words]
Opioid Deaths in the US Have Multiplied in Recent Years. Chris
Mcgreal Visits Fort Lauderdale to Explore the Origins of the Epidemic
For James Fata, the transition from prescription painkillers to
heroin was seamless. The 24-year-old came to Florida to shake an
addiction to opioid pills, but trying to go through rehab in a region
known as the prescription capital of the US proved too much. When a
government crackdown curtailed his supply of pills, Fata turned to
readily available heroin to fill the void.
[continues 1528 words]
A 29-Year-Old Man Was Killed In A Raid That Was Later Deemed
Justified. Police Found $2 Worth of pot.
TAMPA - The mother of a man who was shot and killed by Tampa police
officers during a raid on his home in 2014 has sued the city, its
former police chief and the officers involved over her son's death.
The lawsuit, filed late last week in Hillsborough County Circuit
Court, accuses the police of negligence for acting on the word of an
informer with a history of heavy drug use and criminal activity. It
also says that officers used excessive force against 29-year-old Jason
Westcott, who was killed, and his boyfriend Israel 'Izzy' Reyes, who
was 22 and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
[continues 603 words]
Proponents Cite Benefits to Many Ill Floridians, Thousands of Added
Jobs, Millions in Tax Revenue.
Entrepreneurs in the budding cannabis industry are salivating at the
prospect that Florida might legalize medical marijuana.
Pot proponents say hundreds of thousands of Floridians with cancer
and other ailments would benefit from medical marijuana - and they
see the potential for a billion-dollar industry that could create
thousands of jobs and generate millions in tax revenue.
"I look at this as one of the big job savers, job creators, tax
getters," said Orlando attorney John Morgan, who's bankrolling a
November ballot initiative to legalize pot for medical use.
"Technology is taking jobs away every day. This business here is
going to replace jobs and income like never before."
[continues 795 words]
TALLAHASSEE - The medical marijuana amendment is back, and the fight
over the issue is poised to return to the airwaves and screens of all
sizes throughout Florida.
Drug Free Florida, the group that successfully fended off a similar
amendment in 2014, released its first video this week attacking the
new measure that will go before voters on the November ballot. The
three-minute video is running online only, but it signals the start
of a campaign likely to inundate the state with ads.
[continues 543 words]
Not all pain medication users are addicts. That sentence had to bemy
first because it is a truth that is not well represented. The media
have chosen to tell you ever more frightening tales about
prescription pill abuse without letting you know about us-the
responsible users. Opioids, narcotics, barbiturates, muscle relaxers,
corticosteroids or tricyclics are a part of our daily medication
regimen, but we aren't looking to get high.
I certainly don't deny there is a major problem with prescription drug abuse.
[continues 456 words]
Because the legalization of medical marijuana will be on the ballot
again this year, Florida legislators may want to remember that states
are losing billions by not legalizing pot.
According to a new study, federal and state governments are missing
out on $28 billion by not legalizing recreational marijuana.
The study was released on May 12 by the Tax Foundation, an
independent think tank. Experts said most of that revenue would come
from a tax on marijuana.
The study criticized moral objections to marijuana legalization-such
as concerns over addiction-by suggesting that people abuse marijuana
regardless of its legal status. And according to a national survey on
drug use and health, roughly 12 percent of marijuana users were
considered "abusers" of the drug.
Michael Rose, Lighthouse Point
TALLAHASSEE - A group fighting a proposed amendment to allow medical
marijuana in Florida released its first web video Monday, attacking
the measure as a fig leaf for full-blown legalization of the drug.
The video from Drug Free Florida's Vote No on 2 campaign is posted on
its website and isn't running as an ad on television or online. But
it signals the first salvo from those opposed to Amendment 2.
The three-minute video features online searches of California
marijuana shops, noting their marketing of marijuana-infused baked
goods and other items aren't likely to be for genuine medical ailments.
[continues 223 words]
Palm Beach County's cost for jailing people caught with small amounts
of marijuana may be much less than initially estimated, according to
revised figures released Monday.
Just last week, the county estimated that it cost taxpayers $1.1
million from 2009 to 2015 to jail people whose most serious offense
was having a small amount of marijuana.
But at the urging of the Sheriff's Office, the county's Criminal
Justice Commission on Monday revised its estimate to show that when
marijuana is the only charge involved - excluding trespassing and
other minor offenses that may coincide with a marijuana charge - the
cost drops to about $322,245 from 2009 to 2015.
[continues 416 words]
No matter how defensively you drive in Florida, not having an
accident is usually by luck, not skill. Almost every day we read
about fatal DUI accidents. Usually the driver at fault, already has
had 4-5 DUI convictions and is driving with a suspended license.
In Florida, we will be voting whether to legalize pot. In some states
that have legalized marijuana, fatal car crashes have doubled.
I for one will vote against the legalization of marijuana. If you
disagree, tighten your seat belt and hope you survive the carnage
caused by impaired drivers who may be under the influence of both
alcohol and marijuana.
Carl Solomon, Delray Beach
It's the latest turn in a clash between the sheriff and county
commissioners over whether deputies should give citations to those
caught with a small amount of marijuana.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said he has no plans to
use a commission approved ordinance that lets deputies issue a civil
citation, instead of a criminal charge, for possession of less than
20 grams of marijuana. A citation would be similar to a traffic ticket.
Now, a newly completed analysis by county staff estimates the expense
that comes from jailing small-time offenders instead of ticketing them.
[continues 444 words]
Drugs, Booze, Food, Gambling All Lead to Changes in Brains.
He was 40 years old, a father of three and an Orlando house painter,
clean and sober for eight years. One night last summer, he climbed
into his truck, stuck a needle in his arm and injected himself with
what would be his final dose of heroin.
"The paramedics worked on him for a long time. And when they declared
him dead, he was still clutching his last bag of the drug in his
fist," says Pastor Spence Pfleiderer. "That's the power of addiction."
[continues 1178 words]
BENEFACTOR OPTIMISTIC ON AMEND. 2
For the second time in two years, Florida voters will be presented
with a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for
medical purposes. United for Care, which backed Amendment 2 in 2014,
is also backing the 2016 measure, also known as Amendment 2. Campaign
chairman John Morgan has invested millions of dollars in both
efforts. We discussed the issue with Morgan, campaign manager Ben
Pollara and Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre. An excerpt of Morgan's
responses follows. A video of the full interview is at
[continues 556 words]
TALLAHASSEE - About six months before Election Day, Florida voters
overwhelmingly support a broad legalization of medical marijuana but
are less clear about a critical U.S. Senate race, a new poll shows.
The poll, released on Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, said that
80 percent of voters support a proposed constitutional amendment that
would allow medical marijuana for patients with a wide range of
conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's
disease and multiple sclerosis.
Support for the proposal cuts across political and demographic lines.
For example, it is supported by 71 percent of Republicans and 87
percent of Democrats. It is supported by 80 percent of men and 81
percent of women.
[continues 406 words]
Florida voters overwhelmingly support legalization of medical
marijuana, pollsters said Wednesday, and most also favor legalization
of recreational pot use.
The Quinnipiac University poll found 80 percent of Florida voters
said they would vote for a proposed constitutional amendment in
November allowing for medical use of marijuana. Just 16 percent said
they'd vote no.
Support is greater than 70 percent among every category pollsters
analyzed, regardless of political party, gender, education, age and
ethnicity. The question was specific, asking people if they favored
medical use of marijuana "for individuals with debilitating medical
conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician."
[continues 168 words]
Attorney John Morgan Confident in Voter Turnout.
John Morgan, the deep-pocketed attorney bankrolling the effort to
legalize medical marijuana in Florida, predicts November's election
will produce the victory that eluded him two years ago.
Morgan spent more than $4 million on Amendment 2, the measure that
won support from 57.6 percent of voters in November 2014. It needed
60 percent to pass.
"I didn't really realize how hard 60 percent was going to be," Morgan
said Tuesday during a speech at the Marijuana Business Conference in
Kissimmee. "It is hard - it's a landslide."
[continues 295 words]
Orlando on Monday became the latest Florida municipality and the
first city in Central Florida to effectively decriminalize small
amounts of marijuana, passing an ordinance that will allow officers
to issue citations rather than make arrests.
The controversial measure, which was supported by Mayor Buddy Dyer
and Orlando police Chief John Mina, was approved by the City Council
on a 4-3 vote. It will take effect Oct. 1. The measure was opposed by
the two former police officers on the council, Tony Ortiz and Samuel
Ings, as well as Commissioner Jim Gray. The ordinance passed both
public readings by the same slim margin.
[continues 711 words]
TALLAHASSEE - A new law that protects five nurseries may have given
more ammunition to "ganjapreneurs" seeking an entry into what could
be one of the nation's largest medical-marijuana markets come this fall.
The law was intended to inoculate from pending legal challenges the
five growers, and their teams of consultants and investors, selected
by Florida health officials in November to serve as medical marijuana
dispensing organizations, responsible for growing, processing and
distributing cannabis products to a limited population of patients.
While the law did just that, it also gave at least one losing
applicant new grounds for its existing complaint.
[continues 231 words]
The Orlando City Council is scheduled to make an important decision
Monday, one that could set the tone of law enforcement for years to
come. A proposal by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to decriminalize
possession of a small amount of marijuana in the city is set for final action.
The ordinance passed by a single vote in its first reading on April
18. If the measure becomes law, it would give city police the
authority to write a ticket to someone found with less than 20 grams
(0.7 ounces) of marijuana rather than make an arrest. Several hundred
people went to jail last year for just such a violation, and many may
have ended up with a criminal record.
[continues 501 words]
Recent statistics from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office show that
although African-Americans are 10 percent of the county population,
they represent 41 percent of the arrests for minor amounts of
marijuana. National statistics have prompted the American Bar
Association and the American Civil Liberties Union to call for the
decriminalization of the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana by
making it a civil violation, punishable by a ticket, rather than a
I proposed creating a civil citation program in St. Petersburg in
October. This proposal does not legalize small amounts of marijuana
or the other minor offenses covered in the ordinance. It does make
the punishment fit the crime. No one deserves a permanent criminal
record or to be forced into drug treatment for possessing small
amounts of marijuana. No one's future job prospects should be limited
for littering or stealing a shopping cart.
[continues 576 words]
First Violator Cited Less Than An Hour After Ordinance Took Effect
TAMPA - A stripper, a college student and a lawn maintenance worker
were among the first people issued civil citations for possessing
small amounts of marijuana since April 1, police records show.
Tampa City Council members on March 17 voted 5-1 to adopt the
ordinance, intended to prevent offenders from having the lifelong
stigma of a criminal record that can hinder job, scholarship and
Council members said it will also free up police and the courts.
Nearly 1,900 arrests made by Tampa police last year included charges
of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
[continues 708 words]
Regarding Orlando City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings' My Word column,
"Ings: Here's why I'm voting no on easing pot penalties," on
Wednesday: Ings' opinion is, at best, short-sighted and antiquated.
Ings insists that recreational marijuana use should remain a criminal
activity. The perception that recreational marijuana use is criminal
is dying a slow death, and deservedly so. I expect Ings is unaware of
how many of his friends might be recreational or medicinal users.
This ordinance would not promote open marijuana smoking, as he
assumes; there is a fine. Marijuana use would remain illegal.
[continues 64 words]
Concertgoers Indulge in Marijuana in Violation of City Law.
WEST PALM BEACH - After 7:30 p.m. Friday night, you could smell it.
There was no escaping the odor, which permeated the night sky like
smoke bellowing from a chimney. The stench of marijuana was as
prevalent and as synonymous with SunFest as the downtown traffic jams.
While the crowd can easily tell you what was being smoked, it - like
law enforcement - cannot tell you specifically who was smoking it. As
one vendor, who requested to remain anonymous, remarked, "It is
impossible to pinpoint where it is happening at."
[continues 586 words]
It's Relevant to Student Discipline, Employment Policy
TAMPA - City officials toiled over the details for months before
adopting a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
It's been a month since the regulation took effect, but one segment
of the community is still wrestling with its reaction to changes that
make possession no more serious than a traffic ticket in the eyes of
the law: Hillsborough County schools.
Students likely still will be punished for possession - Hillsborough
County schools are drugfree for all students and employees - but
decriminalization could change the way teachers and other employees
are hired, school officials say. At least in Tampa. "The world is
changing around us," school board Chairwoman April Griffin said. "We
need to have a conversation about what it means if you've received a
citation as opposed to being arrested."
[continues 784 words]
Mayor Buddy Dyer and the city of Orlando recently passed, 4-3, the
initial vote to deprioritize arrests for possession of small amounts
of marijuana. I'm thankful for Dyer and Commissioners Regina Hill,
Patty Sheehan and Robert Stuart for their support of the ordinance.
I, unfortunately, left the City Council meeting feeling disappointed
in Commissioner Samuel Ings for voting against it.
We live in a society where young black men and boys have been a
target of the war on drugs. Ings argues that this policy would
tarnish the image of Orlando as a family vacation destination.
[continues 82 words]