The debate over legalizing medical marijuana is blazing in the Sunshine State. While Floridians will head to the polls and vote on the fate of medical marijuana this November, our criminal defense attorneys know that the wheels of discord are already in motion with still more than five months remaining before the polls even open.
The legislature is anticipated to pass a a bill that would allow children with intractable epilepsy to use a specific strain of marijuana. “Charlotte’s Web,” a form of marijuana that is very low in THC (the drug that gets some users “high”) is administered as an oil extract mixed with food and has been shown to help children suffering from epilepsy. Still, according to the Sun Sentinel, many people expect Governor Rick Scott to veto the bill.
Furthermore, Florida Sheriffs have recently initiated a campaign to oppose medical marijuana. The Florida Sheriff’s Association hopes that it can influence voters to such a degree that the medical marijuana bill will die at the polls in November.
As reported by the Pensacola News Journal, the Sheriff’s Association sent an email to Sheriffs all across the state, asking them to agree to support the Association’s effort to block the legalization of medical marijuana here in Florida.; sixty-three of the sixty-seven sheriffs (94%) asked to support the measure responded that they were in favor of opposing legalized medical marijuana. If the proportion of sheriffs opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana was in any way reflective of the general attitude, and there is no indication that it is, the November bill would be doomed.
Why is it that sheriffs all across Florida so vehemently oppose the legalization of medical marijuana, something that could benefit sick children?
The Florida Sheriff’s Association points to what they see as compelling data out of Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA, to support their position. According to the association, these two aforementioned cities both saw a significant increase in crime after the states in which they are located legalized marijuana. Furthermore, they contend, that out of the 20 states that report the highest amounts of “drugged” driving, 15, or 75% of them, have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana.
The fact remains, though, that the bill aimed at legalizing medical marijuana would not necessarily mean that Florida’s roads and highways would become filled with people driving while smoking joints; in fact, a great deal of the medical marijuana that would be allowed, such as “Charlotte’s Web,” would be free from significant amounts of THC.
We will have to wait until November 4th of this year to find out if the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative succeeds or whether the Florida Sheriff’s Association’s “Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot” campaign proves successful. Thereafter, we will still have to wait and see whether the results of the polls stand the inevitable tests they’ll face in courts and the legislature.