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1 US FL: Deputy Is Charged In Marijuana ProbeSun, 15 Nov 2015
Source:Palm Beach Post, The (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:30 Added:11/15/2015

Authorities say they have arrested a deputy for her alleged role in a marijuanaselling business following a month-long investigation. St. Lucie County sheriff 's deputies said an anonymous tipster told them deputy Heather Tucker, 27, was involved in drug activity.

Authorities searched the apartment she was staying at with her boyfriend and another couple Friday and said they found felony amounts of marijuana, packaging materials and other items typically associated with the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Tucker was charged with marijuana possession of more than 20 grams, marijuana possession with intent to sell and possessing drug equipment.

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2 US FL: Broward Reduces Penalty For Pot PossessionWed, 11 Nov 2015
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Author:Wallman, Brittany Area:Florida Lines:122 Added:11/15/2015

Civil Citations Can Replace Criminal Arrest, County Says

Pot smokers busted by cops in Broward County with a joint or a baggy of marijuana could walk away with a civil fine and a clean criminal record.

Broward commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to create a lighter penalty for small-time possessors of marijuana. The county can't decriminalize an illegal drug, and police officers still have the option to treat the offense as a misdemeanor crime.

But commissioners lamented the lives they say have been ruined by arrest or jailing on what they consider a minor infraction. Twenty states have decriminalized marijuana under certain circumstances, and voters in Broward overwhelmingly supported legalization of medical marijuana when it hit the Florida ballot, but failed, last year.

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3US FL: Sellers Sidestep Law On Synthetic PotMon, 19 Oct 2015
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL) Author:Silvestrini, Elaine Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/19/2015

Prosecutions Are Up, but Formulas Change Quicker Than the Drug Code Can

TAMPA - Synthetic marijuana and other drugs continue to bedevil authorities, who say some progress is being made in the battle against unregulated chemicals that are landing teenagers and young adults in emergency rooms with horrifying reactions.

Although prosecutions mount, authorities say local law enforcement is frustrated by drug sellers who make minor changes in chemical formulations to get around the law, staying just out of reach of police. Once a substance is specifically listed as illegal, a new formula is created.

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4 US FL: LTE: Fighting Crime, DrugsThu, 15 Oct 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL) Author:Jr, Charles M . Area:Florida Lines:30 Added:10/16/2015

The liberal media has demonized mandatory minimum drug sentences, referring to them as punishment for 'nonviolent' crimes. What about the violence that illegal narcotics have done to a large segment of our population? Comparing the cost of incarcerating drug offenders with the cost of drug damage would be instructive.

Mandatory minimum sentences played a major role in reducing the flow of illegal drugs into Florida and the rest of the country. We seem to have lost that bit of history.

I spent seven years interviewing federal drug prisoners for intelligence on successful drug smuggling. The information was obtained at little cost. None of these inmates would have cooperated were it not for their attempts to reduce sentences.

Charles M . Fuss Jr., St. Pete Beach


5 US FL: PUB LTE: Prohibition Costs LivesFri, 09 Oct 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL) Author:Sharpe, Robert Area:Florida Lines:35 Added:10/10/2015

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is going to have to think outside the drug war box if he wants to reduce heroin overdose deaths. Groundbreaking research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that states with open medical marijuana access have a 25 percent lower opioid overdose death rate than marijuana prohibition states. This research finding has huge implications for states like Florida that are grappling with prescription narcotic and heroin overdose deaths.

The substitution effect was documented by California physicians long before the JAMA research. Legal marijuana access is correlated with a reduction in opioid and alcohol abuse. The marijuana plant is incapable of causing an overdose death. Not even aspirin can make the same claim, much less alcohol or prescription narcotics. The phrase 'if it saves one life' has been used to justify all manner of drug war abuses. Legal marijuana access has the potential to save thousands of lives.

Robert Sharpe, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.


6US FL: Editorial: Invest More In Drug TreatmentMon, 05 Oct 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/05/2015

A surge in heroin use in Hillsborough County and throughout Florida underscores the need for increased state funding for substance abuse treatment and mental health services. Gov. Rick Scott has wisely recognized that Florida is not doing enough to help people addicted to drugs and living with mental illness, and the Legislature next year should follow his lead and invest more money in these critical services.

Heroin deaths in Florida reached an all-time high in 2014 of 447 people, according to a report released last week by state medical examiners. Hillsborough County recorded 22 heroin-related deaths in 2014, up from just three a year earlier. Officials have already linked 18 Hillsborough deaths to heroin in the first half of this year. Public health officials across the country say law enforcement's crackdown on doctor shopping, pill mills and the opioid drug oxycodone has prompted the addicted to look for an alternative. Increasingly, drug users are turning to heroin, a relatively inexpensive opioid that is easy to obtain as drug cartels from Mexico find ways to produce a more potent product and smuggle it north, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The spike in heroin deaths highlights an enormous gap in the care offerings for drug addicts, a problem Florida would be smart to quickly address.

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7US FL: Heroin Makes Fast, Deadly Comeback In HillsboroughMon, 28 Sep 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL) Author:Sullivan, Dan Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:09/29/2015

Why Is Unclear, But The Surge Comes As Prescription Drug Deaths Drop

Heroin deaths are on the rise across the Tampa Bay region - but they're exploding in Hillsborough County.

Heroin has killed four times as many people in Hillsborough in the past two years as it did in all of the previous four years combined.

Data from the Hillsborough Medical Examiner's Department reflects a dramatic increase in fatalities attributed to the drug, which has seen a resurgence statewide and nationally following a crackdown on the prescription drug abuse epidemic.

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8 US FL: Jury Convicts Man in Miami Medical Marijuana GrowhouseSat, 26 Sep 2015
Source:Miami Herald (FL) Author:Ovalle, David Area:Florida Lines:72 Added:09/28/2015

A jury did not believe a Miami-Dade man who insisted he grew 15 marijuana plants inside his home only to help ease the suffering of his cancer-stricken wife.

The six-member jury on Friday night convicted Ricardo Varona of trafficking more than 25 pounds of marijuana and operating a marijuana growhouse. Taken into custody to await sentencing, Varona faces a mandatory minimum of three years in prison.

Varona, 43, was the second South Florida man in the past six months to claim "medical neccesity" in operating a marijuana growhouse. Unlike in the Varona case, a Broward jury in March acquitted 50-year-old Jesse Teplicki, who admitted he grew 46 plants to battle years of nausea and fatigue.

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9US FL: Editorial: Legislature Should Act On Medical PotThu, 10 Sep 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:09/11/2015

Supporters of a movement to legalize marijuana for medical use in Florida reached an important milestone last week, gaining enough valid petition signatures to prompt a Florida Supreme Court review of the ballot language.

This was expected after the effort fell just shy of winning enough votes in 2014 and the Legislature refused to take up the issue this year. It should be clearer than ever to legislators that they have one more chance to pass legislation that legalizes medical marijuana or voters likely will do it themselves next year by amending the state Constitution.

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10 US FL: PUB LTE: Reforms Are OverdueTue, 08 Sep 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL) Author:Armentano, Paul Area:Florida Lines:40 Added:09/09/2015

Kudos to columnist John Romano for acknowledging that it is long past time to correct Florida's 'ill-advised anti-marijuana crusade.'

No other state routinely punishes minor marijuana infractions more severely than Florida. Under state law, marijuana possession of 20 grams or less (about two-thirds of an ounce) is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

Marijuana possession over 20 grams, as well as the cultivation of even a single pot plant, are defined by law as felony offenses - punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Annually, an estimated 60,000 Floridians are arrested for possessing marijuana, the third-highest total of any state.

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11 US FL: Group to Push Amendment That Would Completely LegalizeWed, 02 Sep 2015
Source:Orlando Sentinel (FL) Author:Powers, Scott Area:Florida Lines:54 Added:09/03/2015

Petitions will hit the streets soon for a proposed constitutional amendment that would fully legalize marijuana use, possession and cultivation by adults in Florida.

A political-action committee called Floridians For Freedom, associated with a longtime marijuana-advocacy group called the Florida Cannabis Action Network, said Tuesday that it had received state approval to begin seeking signatures to get their measure on the November 2016 ballot.

The measure is distinct from another amendment drive run by United For Care and led by Orlando lawyer John Morgan because Morgan's group wants to legalize marijuana for medical purposes only. Floridians For Freedom wants it legalized for all uses, including recreation.

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12US FL: Editorial: Ease Drug Sentences CautiouslyFri, 28 Aug 2015
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/30/2015

A new federal program that reduces drug offenders' long sentences should cut costs and improve the judicial system. But the exercise requires close monitoring. No one should forget the culprits were sent to prison for grave crimes.

The drug trade, after all, kills thousands each year - users and those killed in the violent street crimes related to drugs.

Illegal drugs' devastating damage to society should not be minimized as federal officials ease sentencing practices.

But, as the Tribune's Elaine Silvestrini found, the Justice Department's Smart on Crime Initiative looks to be a reasonable way to reduce inordinately long sentences without giving criminals a pass.

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13 US FL: OPED: Human Link Helps Addiction Recovery but It's NotThu, 27 Aug 2015
Source:Orlando Sentinel (FL) Author:Settles, Cameron Area:Florida Lines:80 Added:08/28/2015

When I was 13 years old, I decided to never touch drugs or alcohol due to my family's history of addiction. And I stuck to it.

But if I trust author Johann Hari's recent TED Talk, "Everything you know about addiction is wrong," I should feel free to experiment. In the talk, Hari argues that the sole root of and cure for addiction is human connection, but there are some dangerous flaws in his argument.

Hari's thesis is that there is no physical component to addiction, only a psychological one that is specifically an attempt to fill the void of human connection. The evidence he provides to illustrate this, though, is a study on lab rats that showed they would not drink cocaine water if they had friends, Portugal's decriminalizing of all drugs, and a professor who proposed calling addiction "bonding."

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14US FL: OPED: Yes, I Need Pain MedsSun, 23 Aug 2015
Source:Tampa Bay Times (FL) Author:Paulson, Darryl Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/24/2015

As America entered the 21st century, Florida became the home of retirees, tourists and prescription drug abusers. Law enforcement officials referred to Interstate 75 as the 'Oxy Express,' as people flooded into Florida to take advantage of the state's easy access to drugs.

'Florida was ground zero for pill mills,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon Gaugush.

During a six-month period in 2010 at just one pill mill in Tampa, 1,906 patients from 23 states made 4,715 visits. Doctors at this one facility wrote prescriptions for 1 million oxycodone pills.

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15 US FL: County Looks At Easing Pot LawsSun, 23 Aug 2015
Source:Palm Beach Post, The (FL) Author:Kleinberg, Eliot Area:Florida Lines:79 Added:08/24/2015

Staff Researches Idea for a Much-Reduced Penalty for Small Amounts.

WEST PALM BEACH - Palm Beach County is considering making possession of a small amount of marijuana a civil infraction - the equivalent of a traffic ticket - rather than a criminal offense.

But a number of issues need to be worked out in order for this approach to receive broad-based support or at least acceptance from law enforcement and the criminal justice system stakeholders," Assistant County Administrator Jon Van Arnam wrote in a memo Aug. 14.

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16US FL: Rollback Means Drug Offenders Get Early ReleaseSun, 23 Aug 2015
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL) Author:Silvestrini, Elaine Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/23/2015

TAMPA - On Nov. 1, 120 federal drug offenders sentenced in Tampa will be released from prison as part of a rollback of federal drug penalties.

Among the prisoners tasting freedom will be Lucas Lopez, 86, and his son, Benito, 47, Miami commercial fishermen who have served 22 years of their 30-year sentences after being convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine in Tampa.

For both men, it was their first conviction. Neither had any disciplinary issues in 22 years behind bars, according to their lawyer, Conrad Kahn of the Federal Public Defender's office.

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17 US FL: PUB LTE: A Lesson To Be LearnedTue, 18 Aug 2015
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL) Author:Chase, John Area:Florida Lines:36 Added:08/20/2015

In response to "Hepatitis cases exploding in U.S." (Nation & World, Aug. 8): Twenty years ago that headline could have been written in Switzerland. An AIDS epidemic was out of control. The Swiss were so desperate they tried something radical: They allowed hardA-core addicts to register with the state to receive clean heroin. It was controversial at first, but in 2008 the public voted to include "heroin-assisted treatment" as a normal part of their national health system. They also made methadone freely available as a pharmaceutical. The proA-gram pays for itself in improved public health and safety. It also enables addicts to hold jobs and pay taxes. The average age at registration as an addict is slowly rising, indicating that kids are not becoming addicted, and the number of addicts needing her-oin has stabilized at about 1,300, in a population about the same as Florida.

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18 US FL: Lesser Penalty For Pot WeighedWed, 05 Aug 2015
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Author:Bryan, Susannah Area:Florida Lines:63 Added:08/06/2015

Hallandale Officials Likely to Approve $100 Civil Fine

HALLANDALE BEACH - Gone to pot? Get caught in Hallandale Beach with up to 20 grams of marijuana, and you may be looking at a $100 civil fine instead of criminal charges.

Following the lead of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County, Hallandale Beach city commissioners are expected to give initial approval to the new law Wednesday night.

City Commissioner Keith London won quick support from his colleagues after pitching the idea in June. Should the measure pass, Hallandale Beach might be the first city in Broward County to pass such a measure.

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19 US FL: Poll: Majority Of Floridians Back Medical MarijuanaMon, 03 Aug 2015
Source:Orlando Sentinel (FL) Author:Powers, Scott Area:Florida Lines:47 Added:08/03/2015

A new poll finds that two-thirds of likely Florida voters are willing to vote yes for medical marijuana legalization.

The survey, done by St. Pete Polls, finds majority support for medical marijuana in every market of the state. Overall, 68.2 percent of those surveyed say "yes" when asked: "If the new medical marijuana initiative makes it on to the ballot this year will you vote for it?"

"No," got 25.3 percent, and just 6.5 percent said they were undecided.

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20 US FL: PUB LTE: Our Incarceration NationSun, 02 Aug 2015
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL) Author:Kavanagh, Finn Area:Florida Lines:63 Added:08/03/2015

There is a destination where you're about five times more likely to be incarcerated than the rest of the world. It's got only 4 percent of the planet's population but claims more than 20 percent of the world's population behind bars. It's not Syria, and it's not Cuba. That place is the United States of America.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the number of prisoners in the United States has increased more than seven times during this author's almost 50 years. Two million people in America live behind the walls. America imprisons at an astounding rate of 716 of every 100,000 people. The Prison Policy Initiative ranks Florida 10th in the U.S., imprisoning people at a rate of 891 people per 100,000. Florida's "lock 'em up" rate ranks well above authoritarian regimes such as Cuba, Rwanda and the Russian Federation. In 1970, the Florida Department of Corrections imprisoned just 8,793. Thirty years later, the number has multiplied more than 11 times to greater than 100,000 men and women in state prisons.

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