The Case for Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Florida

This is a new page we’re working on to collect some references to help illuminate the issues on legalizing medical marijuana — especially here in Florida.

The battle lines have been drawn.

On one side is the status quo that prohibits marijuana for medicinal uses.

On the other is the growing tide of voices calling for its legalization, both within and outside of Florida.

Our position

Before we start, let us make one thing perfectly clear. We here at PeaceOptionsTM are staunch advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana. But while we recommend its passage, the ultimate determination for that is up to each individual who steps forward to vote on the proposed Amendment Two to Florida’s constitution.

We just want to give you some perspective that may empower you to make a more informed choice.

Our position is based upon a simple concept — that it is the God-given right of every sentient soul to select the means it deems most appropriate to provide for the health, vitality and functionality of the body in which it rides.

This right is founded in the right to privacy first recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (though we decline here to participate in the underlying abortion controversy it attempted to resolve).

While other proponents don’t openly espouse our reasons, many have their own which are just if not more persuasive. Here’s a recent video on the subject entitled, “Should Grandma Smoke Pot?”

Current Legal Status

Medical marijuana is legal in Florida now only on a limited basis, notably the high-CBD/low-THC strain (CBD=cannabinoid, acting upon cannabinoid receptors in the body) strain known as “Charlotte’s Web.” THC is tetra-hydro-cannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

It is only available by prescription for a single illness (epilepsy). Other uses are not permitted.

Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated in recent years that THC is a necessary ingredient for the effective use of marijuana, and that this law ignores the vast majority of conditions that marijuana is used to treat in other states.

The limited-scope statute was passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature to blunt their vulnerability in the upcoming election to Democrats who are generally supportive of full marijuana availbility, in all its forms, for medical conditions.

Here’s the video on Charlotte’s Web that opened the door and gave hope to epileptic kids.

Text of the Proposed Florida Amendment Two

Title: “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions”

The official ballot text reads as follows:

“ Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.”

It specifically references cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

Wikipedia page on the amendment

Recent Polls

88% in Favor of Medical Marijuana per Quinniac Poll

Groups in Favor of Legalization (partial list – to be updated)

United We Care – group that got the amendment on the ballot.

LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Groups opposed to Legalization (partial list – to be updated)

Vote No on 2

Florida Sheriff’s Association/Drug Free America Foundation campaign “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot”

Primary Arguments in Favor of Legalization

* It is the only medication available for some conditions/patients to deal with their illnesses.

* It is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco (both legal), and does not lead to harder drug use.

– It can easily be regulated by the state to keep it away from kids and distributed in a manner consistent with other controlled substances.

– It will remove the criminal element from the distribution chain.

– Legalization will allow research to be performed legally by scientists and institutions of higher learning (the professors, not the students, who by the way are probably using it illegally anyway). This will allow the development of new strains and treatments for medical conditions that now must be performed in other countries or illegally here in the U.S.

Primary Arguments Against Legalization

– It will increase drug use and serve as a gateway to drugs like cocaine and heroin.

– It will increase availability to minors.

– People might prefer it more than other, more addictive and harmful medications.

Miscellaneous References and links:

States With Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Overdose Deaths

New York Times Editorial Calling for Federal Legalization of Marijuana

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam – Israel biochemis who has extensively studied the properties of medical marijuana, especially the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabidiol, that active ingredient in marijuana that works on the CBD receptors found in the brain, heart, lungs, pancreas and elsewhere throughout the body.

Read this for an in-depth look at how cannabis works: New Developments in Cannabis Medicine – An Interview with Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

Here’s an excerpt:

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a ubiquitous lipid signaling system that we now know appeared early in evolution and has important regulatory functions throughout the body in all vertebrates. It consists of a family of G-protein-coupled receptors, the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 found in the brain and many peripheral tissues, and CB2, primarily found in immune cells); endoligands to activate these receptors; and two enzymes, the fatty acid amide hydrolase and the monoacylglycerol lipase, to metabolize the endoligands. The endoligands of the cannabinoid receptor system, small molecules derived from arachidonic acid, are called endocannabinoids.1 2

The main endocannabinoids, anandamide (arachidonoylethanolamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, bind primarily to CB1 and CB2 receptors, but also to the vanilloid receptor3 4 producing a wide diversity of effects since they function as agonists, antagonists and partial antagonists. (Cannabinoids function as antagonists to the vanilloid receptor, a.k.a. the capsaicin receptor, since it can be activated by capsaicin and is involved in the transmission and modulation of pain.)

Or watch this video of him:

View his Wikipedia page

Still not sure? Here’s a video piecing together some of the best reports you’ll find on the web. Grab a cup of java, sit back and educate yourself.

 Update: OOPS. Sorry. They took it down. Not available in US for copyright reasons.

So, with all this evidence and arguments, the question ultimately comes down to, how do you feel about it? Do you think it should remain illegal?

Or do you want it in the arsenal of your physician to treat the ills and infirmities that too often accompany life in these bodies?

However you feel, get out and vote. Make your voice heard.

Photo credit: Photobucket

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