I was asked to comment on Florida’s impending medical marijuana vote by a TV producer for FOX 35 Orlando, Florida, today. He wanted to know, briefly, who will be the winners and losers in Florida when the medical marijuana constitutional amendment passes in November. The segment will air on February 28 and here are my talking points:
WINNERS = Seniors, like my friend Bobby Platshorn in West Palm. He’s been teaching seniors how medical cannabis helps them replace many of their prescriptions and stave off Alzheimer’s disease on his website, TheSilverTour.org.
Seniors are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers. Since 1985, marijuana use has quintupled for people over age 50 and nearly tripled for people over age 65.
LOSERS = Big Pharma and “pill mills.” When people have safe, legal access to medical cannabis, they will need fewer pain pills and other prescriptions.
Berkeley Patients Group, a dispensary in California, found about two-thirds of their patients were able to cut back or eliminate their use of prescriptions with medical cannabis.
WINNERS = Florida’s Economy. Not only does the growing and selling of medical cannabis create jobs and tax revenue, it creates a host of ancillary industries from greenhouse suppliers to glass blowers.
Plus, Florida gets to save some money not arresting, jailing, and prosecuting sick people caught with their herbal medicine.
LOSERS = Criminal Dealers. Marijuana trafficking represents 15% - 26% of the income of murderous Mexican drug cartels and is a major funding source for urban gangs.
It’s bad enough we make healthy pot smokers buy marijuana from criminals, but it’s downright cruel to make a cancer patient buy medicine on the black market.
WINNERS = Public Safety. Almost all problems with marijuana have to do with its prohibition, not the cannabis plant itself.
When Florida police aren’t forced to raid people like my friend Cathy Jordan, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, maybe they can spend more time working on the violent crimes that go unsolved every year.
LOSERS = The Police / Drug Court / Rehab Complex. When cops can’t bust medical cannabis patients, they can’t seize their cash and property to fund their departments. When drug courts can’t rely on sentencing sick people to rehab for using their medicine, their success stats drop.
Most especially, people like Florida’s Kevin Sabet lose. He’s going around the country lobbying against medical marijuana and supporting forced rehab for marijuana smokers. For medical marijuana to pass in his home state would be a devastating blow.
WINNERS = Patients. Florida. Every month we learn more about medical cannabis, like its potential in healing concussions, preventing diabetes, treating epilepsy, alleviating PTSD, and curing cancer.
In a decade we will look back in horror at the thought we ever banned this miracle plant.
LOSERS = Politicians, like Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who oppose the will of more than four out of five Floridians who support medical cannabis.
"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of "The Russ Belville Show."