A recent analysis of arrests for marijuana possession in at least two
Tampa Bay counties revealed a disturbing trend.
Blacks and whites use marijuana at virtually the same rates, but law
enforcement is at least six times more likely to arrest a black
person for possessing the drug. The disparity raises questions about
whether blacks are being unfairly targeted by police and pushed into
the criminal justice system in ways that leave permanent scars.
Law enforcement officials should re-examine their approach to
policing marijuana possession and ensure that enforcement strategies
are evenly applied in all communities.
[continues 405 words]
For medical use, marijuana has far fewer side effects than
pharmaceuticals. I do not encourage marijuana use. Nor do I encourage
Pharmaceutical drugs kill 38,000 per year. Tobacco kills 480,000 per
year. Diabetes kills 69,000 per year. Alcohol kills 88,000 per year
and contributes to domestic violence. Marijuana kills zero per year,
and in Colorado domestic violence was reduced by 30 percent. One woman
died in Colorado from heart complications while high.
Which are the gateway drugs? Marijuana users almost always start with
beer and cigarettes.
[continues 72 words]
Black People In Pinellas And Hillsborough Are At Least Six Times As
Likely To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession As White People
Federal surveys show that 10 to 12 percent of both races use marijuana
at least once a month.
What does differ is how pot marketplaces unfold in various
neighborhoods and how police agencies respond.
As a result, a mood-altering substance that many Floridians think
should be legal generates criminals in one sector of the community
while other people largely skate free.
[continues 1446 words]
People are lawfully allowed to buy and drink alcoholic beverages and
lawfully allowed to buy and smoke cigarettes. Both of these products
have no health benefits to speak of, cause fatal diseases and are
laying all over the place where children can easily get their hands on
them. Now we have the medical marijuana issue coming up for a vote
here in Florida and certain groups are going nuts trying to persuade
voters to vote it down. So, where is the outrage regarding the
legality and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes?
Gary Cecil, Tampa
Re: Sept. 10, Commentary
The former justices provide virtually no quotations from Amendment 2
to support anything they say. 'Most voters don't have the time or
inclination,' they say, 'to read the full text of the actual
amendment. We have read the amendment and studied its impact. And we
In fact, Amendment 2 is less than 1,200 words long, takes up only
four standard-sized typed pages, and is available online by doing a
simple Web search for 'Florida Amendment 2 text.'
[continues 56 words]
One of the best reasons to support Amendment 2 is that it would end
the criminalization of severe pain patients and begin to show voters
that the monsters-under-the-bed stories they've been told all their
lives about cannabis are nonsense.
Chris Woodard, Tampa
The seven former Florida Supreme Court justices who opined on why they
believe that voters should reject medical marijuana as outlined in
Amendment 2 are misinterpreting some very important
First they claim that the amendment is too broadly written. The
amendment is a framework. The Department of Health will be writing the
regulations that will ultimately flesh out the rules.
They claim to have studied the impact of the amendment. Since this has
not yet even been voted on, there has been no impact to study.
[continues 290 words]
Re: Medical pot not an easy victory, Sept. 4
Adding an amendment to the Constitution, especially one legalizing
medical marijuana, should not be done lightly.
According to the California Narcotics Officers Association, "Marijuana
is an unstable mixture of over 400 chemicals including toxic
psychoactive chemicals which are largely unstudied and appear in
uncontrolled strengths." No scientific studies demonstrate that
marijuana is safe.
Marijuana has a high potential for abuse, and there is currently
strong evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. Mental illnesses
such as psychosis, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and suicidal
thoughts have been associated with chronic marijuana use.
[continues 64 words]
A Poll Shows Many Voters Haven't Made Up Their Minds About Florida's Amendment
Though early polling showed overwhelming support for medical
marijuana in Florida, a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/ UF Bob Graham
Center poll indicates that many likely voters are still unsure about
a constitutional amendment that would allow it.
'It's not the slam dunk that previous polls suggested," said Dr.
Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center and
director of the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and
Business Research. 'There are still a lot of people who don't know
about it, haven't thought about it or haven't made up their minds."
Florida's proposed Amendment 2 - which goes to a vote Nov. 4 - would
let people use marijuana for debilitating illnesses with a doctor's consent.
[continues 715 words]
Why They Smoke
SEMINOLE - Peggy Alcorn, a 68-year-old retiree, exercises every day
in her swimming pool. She hangs onto the edge for an hour-bouncing,
swaying,kicking and singing to a mix of 1980 streaming from her
computer.Every15minutes or so,she picks up a pipe and takes a few
puffs of pot. Alcorn has multiple sclerosis. She says marijuana has
eased her symptoms dramatically. And she hopes that -- come Nov.4 --
she will no longer have to worry about breaking the law. On that
day,voters will decide whether to amend Florida's Constitution to
allow marijuana use for medical purposes.
[continues 574 words]
Humans have cultivated marijuana for thousands of years - using fiber
for cloth, oil for food, smoke for ceremonies and chemicals for medicine.
Scientists know that compounds found in pot can alter physical and
mental functions, lending credence to sick people who say marijuana
alleviates their symptoms.
But marijuana - especially in its smoked form - carries risk.
Some studies have linked heavy pot use to heart attacks, mental
illness and breathing difficulties.
"Marijuana is not a completely benign substance. It is a powerful
drug with a variety of effects," concluded the Institute of Medicine,
a neutral research group charged by Congress to study medical marijuana
[continues 1086 words]
This letter makes the point that law enforcement will enforce antidrug
laws to enhance their own self-interests, not necessarily to reduce
drug addiction. The opposition of the Florida Sheriff's Association to
Amendment 2 is an example, according to the letter.
I agree. But I am also an optimist. I believe that when voters put
Amendment 2 into the Florida Constitution, as polls indicate they
will, the sheriffs will innovate. They will shift money, around to do
more on-foot community policing, for instance, and less
[continues 81 words]
I have been trying to understand why the Florida Sheriff's Association
has come out against the medical marijuana amendment, which is
supported by most of the public.
Objectively, the data are clear. Opiate medications are far more
dangerous than marijuana. Therefore, if medical marijuana can
substantially reduce dependency on opiates, legalizing it is a no-brainer.
The sheriffs have brains. Therefore their opposition must not be based
on the facts. What else can be behind their opposition? I think what
they really fear is that passage of the amendment will inevitably lead
to a Colorado-type outcome of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
[continues 133 words]
Lawyer John Morgan And A Casino Mogul Debate Via Email
Trial lawyer John Morgan - whose outsized persona is already etched
onto Florida's consciousness - said medical marijuana has boosted his
celebA-rity even higher.
At the Orlando airport last week, eight to 10 people stopped him
between the plane and his car to thank him for bankrollA-ing the
constitutional amendA-ment to legalize medical marA-ijuana, Morgan
said. 'Two or three wanted to have their picA-tures taken with me.'
However, none of that hoopla surprised Morgan as much as an email that
arrived three months ago from Nevada.
[continues 960 words]
Re: Medical Use of marijuana requires more research | Aug 14, column
As a pharmacist, I wonder why there is negaA-tivity against marijuana
or cannabis to the point where some want to prevent its use medically.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement AdministraA-tion continues to classify
marijuana as a SchedA-ule I controlled substance along with cocaine
and heroin. This classification means it is very addicting and has no
medical use. But recent findings show it has had benefit in some
[continues 125 words]
Passage of Marijuana Measures Is Bound To Bring A Barrage Of Legal
Questions, And A Lot Of Money
TAMPA - For decades, attorney Richard Blau focused his legal savvy on
the high-stakes business of booze. Alcohol-industry law was an
attorney's dream, full of unresolved questions and deep-pocketed
players clawing their way to the top.
So when Florida's talk turned to marijuana, another storied pastime
with its own dubious history, Blau's titan of a law firm,
GrayRobinson, jumped at the opportunity. Blau now leads a special
practice for clients wanting to capitalize on medical cannabis - and
bend the laws to their advantage.
[continues 998 words]
Issues Include Distribution And a Lottery System
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's attempt to draft a medical marijuana rule ran
into another buzz-saw of complaints Friday as potential growers
lamented being forced to truck their product across the state and
investors warned that a lottery to select pot producers will scare
away qualified companies.
The comments came at the second workshop held by the state Department
of Health to get feedback from marijuana industry hopefuls about a
proposed rule allowing for the legal cultivation of low in THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol) and high in CBD (cannabidiol) for patients
with seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms and cancer.
[continues 660 words]
With tolerance for marijuana increasing around the country, a poll
released Monday indicates that Florida may not lag far behind.
According to the Quinnipiac University poll, 88 percent of Florida
voters now would allow use of marijuana for medical purposes - broad
support that cuts across age, gender and political lines. That is up
from 82 percent support that Quinnipiac reported in November.
About 55 percent of Floridians would legalize marijuana for
recreational use, the poll reported - up 7 percent from November.
[continues 732 words]
Cristian Omar Reyes, an 11-year-old sixth-grader in the neighborhood
of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to
get out of Honduras soon - "no matter what."
In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working
as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the
life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She
promised to send for him quickly, but she has not.
Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were
gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the
beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5.
She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a
hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a
ravine across the street from Cristian's house.
[continues 1993 words]
Five Nurseries Will Be Picked to Grow a Form of Medical Marijuana -
The Question is Who.
TALLAHASSEE - The parents of RayAnn Moseley, the Pensacola child with
intractable epilepsy whose story softened the hearts of reluctant
lawmakers, are fighting a new battle: getting Charlotte's Web to Florida.
The Moseleys have formed a company to apply to be one of the five
medical marijuana dispensaries under the new law that allows for the
cultivation of marijuana that's low in THC, the chemical that
produces pot's intoxicating effect, but high in CBD, the one that
[continues 1193 words]