Florida is one of the hotbed states for marijuana news these days. With a vote coming up in the state legislature in two months to legalize medical marijuana in the state, parties on both sides of the issue are finding themselves in the news whether they intended to be there or not. Some of the anti-marijuana spokespeople in Florida are urging people to consider if legalizing medical marijuana will lead to increased recreational use and other types of immorality. Meanwhile, patients who have gained serious benefits from using medical marijuana, or would like to, are taking steps of their own to tell their stories and get access to the medical cannabis they need. Here are three particular stories of note this week:
John Morgan Under Fire
John Morgan is an attorney based in Orlando, FL, who has been very vocal in favor of Amendment 2, the amendment which will legalize medical marijuana if passed. While Morgan is not a member of the state legislature, his voice and his donations have made him a very prominent figure in the press around the vote on Amendment 2. Morgan has also donated millions of dollars out of his pocket supporting the amendment. His passion for the amendment has led to some temper flares, including a diatribe he gave to younger voters last week after a debate that was liberally peppered with profanity.
Interestingly, it is not this pro-pot rant that is getting Morgan bad press so much as alleged loopholes in Amendment 2 that, according to the anti-marijuana group Drug Free America Foundation, will lead to legalized marijuana as a whole, not just for medical use. The DFAF is planning to put up a billboard in Orlando (and possibly others in other locations) lambasting Morgan for his support of the amendment and its loopholes. Morgan has made no response to the billboard at this time.
Date Rape From Medical Marijuana?
In a similar vein, another anti-marijuana group called No On 2 has put out an ad promoting the idea that legalizing medical marijuana will lead to date rape. The logic behind this ad seems to be that since medical marijuana is often eaten rather than smoked, marijuana cookies and brownies distributed for medical purposes will make their way into the hands (and in the ad, the back pockets) of nefarious young men bent on getting their dates too high to protest to unwanted sexual advances. A spokesperson from No On 2 maintains that the ad is meant to raise the concern that since marijuana these days is much stronger in concentration than it was fifty years ago, it will be that much easier to abuse.
This ad has caused considerable controversy. Opponents of No On 2 have pointed out that there is not and has never been a correlation between medical marijuana and date rape, that equating medical marijuana to a “roofie” or “Mickey Finn” substance meant to render a subject pliant and unconscious is both nonsensical and reminiscent of the “reefer madness” propaganda campaigns that led to marijuana’s illegalization in 1937. Many people initially thought that the ad was a hoax or a joke. No On 2 has not removed the ad, nor have they specifically responded to commentary other than as noted above.
A Daughter’s Cancer Treatment
On the other side of the issue, there is Moriah Barnhart. Moriah’s young daughter Dahlia has cancer, and Moriah has observed that the only thing relieving the girl’s painful symptoms is marijuana. Moriah previously lived in Colorado, where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, but recently relocated to the Tampa area in Florida, and has announced her intention to continue treating her daughter with medical marijuana she will grow herself, no matter how the upcoming Amendment 2 vote turns out.
There is actually a precedent for this practice. According to a 1991 ruling, Florida residents who can prove they have a valid medical need for marijuana are allowed to grow, possess, and use it. This presumably includes young children who receive a diagnosis and prescription under parental supervision. Moriah has stated that she expects no trouble being able to treat Dahlia’s cancer with medical marijuana, and has already obtained a Florida physician’s decision that the treatment is in fact necessary.
With the Amendment 2 vote some two months away at this point, voices on both sides of the medical marijuana legalization debate will undoubtedly continue to be heard.