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Politicians’ Pot Dilemma: Whether To Inhale Florida’s Medical Marijuana Joint

| February 25, 2014

Pols' pot question. (Arbri Shameti)

Pols’ pot question. (Arbri Shameti)

By Gary Stein

Our elected officials get a plethora of input from phone calls, e-mails and desperate testimony in town halls and committee meetings.

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But, most likely, the decisions they make are done in those quiet, introspective moments when they process all that they have read and heard. But sometimes, they reach out for guidance from higher authorities.

This is the case for the new pieces of legislation being filed and considered on medical marijuana.

In many of the recent comments from officials and candidates, the word “compassion” has been thrown around a lot. In years past, compassion rarely came up in the discussion over medical cannabis. To be honest, very little conversation about it occurred “in the sunshine.” Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, is on his fourth yearly attempt to bring a bill to debate. In previous years, the bills fell to the tables without a sound.

But this year, things are different. This legislative session has, as Rep. Dennis Baxley(R-Ocala) artfully stated, “a nexus of issues that swirl around the public policy regarding substances that are illegal that may have medical benefit.”

One of the things that brought about this nexus included several polls that say up to 82 percent of the voters surveyed approved of legalizing medical marijuana. But many on the right who are warming to this idea don’t seem to be mentioning those polls.

The bills that have a good chance of passing this year are being supported by elected advocates who seem to be listening to higher powers.

Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, who filed HB1139 last year with Clemens, has devoted her efforts this year to a bill that would allow the use of a strain of marijuana with a very low THC level (the chemical that provides the euphoria). The strain, known as “Charlotte’s Web” (and previously known as “Hippie’s Disappointment” because it fails to produce a buzz) has practically no value to the usual marijuana consumer.

However, the oil extract, high in a chemical called CBD (cannabidiol), has been shown to be highly effective in treating previously untreatable and debilitating seizure disorders.

Edwards got an unexpected champion for her bill from House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar. In the past, he had shown little compassion. Medicaid recipients, he once said, preferred to sit on their couch and play “Grand Theft Auto.”

But this time, Gaetz said that he was moved to tears after watching a report on how Charlotte’s Web helps children with seizure disorders. It is heartening to see what seems to be a true reaction to the needs of constituents rather than political haranguing.  I applaud his candor.

Soon after Gaetz filed his bill with Edwards, a letter to constituents was released by his conservative father and President of the Senate, Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. Sen. Gaetz stated, “I recognize the position Matt and I have taken may be controversial in the minds of some of our Northwest Florida neighbors. It has taken time and prayer and struggle for me to arrive at my position.”

Sen. Jeff Bradley, R-Fleming Island, told his constituents that he decided to file the Senate companion bill to the Gaetz-Edwards bill, “after much prayer and discussion with my family and colleagues.”

The elevation of the subject to a theological level is not uncommon across the country. Many legislators from Georgia to Kentucky to Iowa have invoked conversations with God as they came to embrace medical marijuana.

It is also coming from their public. Iowa Christian talk show host Reike Plecas said on his program, “Bishop Hagler, I’m going to ask that you pray for our legislators in Iowa, that their minds be changed to a godset state of mind, that God just lay on their hearts to really look at the research that’s been done in regards to these oils and these plants.”

Those giving testimony in committee chambers have also said they prayed for legislation to ease their children’s suffering.

I applaud Rep. Gaetz, Sen. Gaetz and Rep. Dennis Baxley, as well as Speaker Will Weatherford for taking what appears to them to be a controversial stance.

This debate provided a surprising admission this week. Sen. Gaetz  admitted that in 1983 he helped a friend and Methodist chaplain, E. Ronal Mudd, obtain marijuana to ease his suffering as he was dying from cancer. The type of marijuana that helped Gaetz’s friend would not be addressed by the Charlotte’s Web bill, but Baxley said this bill “may be a template for future efforts.”

I respect their spiritual beliefs. However, I also believe that if they are truly praying, then they will not just hear the voice of their deity, but, channeled through the response, all the voices of the people of Florida that God ultimately hears as well.

And those Floridians, coincidently, are the constituents they serve.

Gary Stein, MPH, a native Detroiter, worked for the Centers for Disease Control, landed in the Tampa Bay area to work for the State Tobacco program and is now a health advocate and activist and blogger for the Huffington Post.

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8 Responses for “Politicians’ Pot Dilemma: Whether To Inhale Florida’s Medical Marijuana Joint”

  1. A.S.F. says:

    I am glad to see that the bills that are being considered are taking a serious look at the types of Cannaboid products that will be used to treat medical conditions. The drugs used should be controlled for public health and safety and prescribed as per their effectiveness in treating different medical conditions. Doctors will need to educate themselves correspondingly. Too many people are using otherwise legitimate drugs just to get a high. We don’t need to compound that problem any further.

    • scott says:

      You could make the same argument for caffeine. Except that caffeine can kill you at much lower dosages.
      Software CEO’s in silicon valley have said it improves worker productivity and that they have unofficially stopped screening for it in drug tests. There were articles about it several months ago. Some scientists like Carl Sagan, Francis Crick, Margaret Mead used it and noted that improved their mental ability. The LD50 for marijuana makes it nearly impossible to overdose on. There is absolutely no reason it should be controlled. So what are we protecting the public from? The gateway theory has been completely disproven. Look at data over the last 4 decades of substance abuse by children across this country and you will see tobacco one year alcohol the next and something completely different after that.
      Marijuana does not do the damage alcohol and tobacco do. This has been shown repeatedly.
      You say, “Doctors will need to educate themselves correspondingly” as though you have some training they do not. I think it is you tha tis misinformed.

  2. Mary Cannady says:

    God’s probably asking, “What took you so long?” ” I put this plant on earth to benefit mankind.”

  3. Kathy D says:

    The differences between eating, smoking, and topical use of cannabis and why each has a purpose.

    Since smoking is the oppostion’s stated major concern let me start there. The absolute best purpose for smoking cannabis is as an expectorant. For those who are allergic to guaifenesin, the expectorant used in most cough and cold medications, it can be a life saver. It can be the difference between suffocating on ones own mucus and coughing it out and opening the breathing airways. It can prevent pneumonia by allowing the mucus to be coughed out.

    The other main reasons for smoking are almost instant relief and titration. If one is vomiting, eating is not always possible. Waiting 40 minutes to an hour or longer for something eaten to work doesn’t usually work when vomiting is involved because what was eaten usually gets thrown up, so a few puffs to stop the vomiting can be the best solution for the patient at the time.

    For many patients a small amount is all they need. Parkinson’s patients report it takes 1 – 4 puffs generally to stop the tremors. By smoking it provides the relief almost instantly. They can titrate, use what they need, 1 puff at a time. You can’t do that so easily when eating something that takes 40 minutes to over an hour to work. Why should an elderly Parkinson’s patient or anyone with ailment that cause tremors or spasms, or vomiting have to wait for relief when it could be instantly?

    Consuming cannabis by eating food infused with cannabis extracts such as cannabis butter or oil is a very safe way to medicate. It bypasses the hypothalamus, a plus for many patients, for others it helps but does not provide as complete of a relief. Patients learn what works best for them and their own endocanninoid system.

    Topical use if effective for such a wide variety of issues, as discussed anti-biotic, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, but also for pain, inflammation, gout, skin care, even skin cancer. There are 2 main different types of cannabis oil, one is for cooking, baking and food the other, is often called RSO or Rick Simpson Oil named so after the man who rediscovered it and has been educating the world about it. RSO is made different and kills cancer in several ways. While even the cooking/baking oil can be helpful for pain it take the RSO oil topically to kill skin cancer. For an internal cancer one needs to consume the RSO to kill the cancer, smoking it won’t work, you need a far higher dose than that to kill cancer.

    The following effects of cannabis is how it kills cancer Anti-Proliferative – prevents cells from reproducing, Anti-Angiogenic – prevents formation of new blood vessels needed by tumor to grow, Anti-Metastatic – prevents cancer from spreading to other organs, Apoptotic – induces cell to seek it’s own death.

    Cannabis for “jock Itch” is actually no laughing matter. Cannabis is an awesome anti-fungal, anti-biotic, anti-parasitic and antiviral.

    From a recent article:
    “ Antimicrobials come in four major categories anti-biotic, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic. Cannabis is active on all four groups.”
    “Italy’s Universita del Piemonte Orientale and Britain’s University of London, School of Pharmacy assessed the antibacterial properties of five cannabinoids – THC, CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromine), and CBN (cannabinol) – against various strains of multidrug-resistant bacteria, including MRSA.“All compounds showed potent antibacterial activity,” authors determined. Researchers noted that cannabinoids showed “exceptional” antibacterial activity against EMERSA-15 and EMERSA-16, the major epidemic MRSA strains occurring in UK hospitals. Cannabinoids appear to be unaffected by the mechanism that “super bugs” like MRSA use to evade existing antibiotics.”

    I found “NoFungUsAmongUs CannaSpray”, the directions read : Apply topically for Athlete’s foot, jock itch, fingernail or toenail fungus, candida rash, ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, herpes and even oral infections. Spray on and allow to dry. While cannabis is being used for jock itch it isn’t smoked for it but rather used topically.

    Patients across the state are thrilled Legislators are beginning to realize the awesomeness of medical use of cannabis. What they fail to realize is just as the children with seizures get miraculous benefits from a high CBD low THC strain of cannabis, that is one strain and one ailment. The rest of the patients gain just as miraculous benefits for their ailments with other strains.The rest of the patients need the rest of the medicine.

    In the Florida Senate we have SB 1030 Medical-grade Marijuana and Cannabis defines and limits “Medical-grade marijuana” to mean a substance that contains no more than 0.5 percent or less of any tetrahydrocannabinol and at least 15 percent cannabidiol, and The term does not include the possession, use, or administration by smoking.

    And we also have

    SB 962 – Medical Use of Cannabis which is an excellent piece of legislation and is meant to legalize all the medicine for all the patients.

    However if the legislature passes SB 1030 and HB 843 we may only ever have the Charlotte’s web version of cannabis medicine, basically downgrading medical cannabis to a slightly higher level of THC than Hemp, a disaster for the majority of patients that would benefit from medical use of cannabis.
    Legislators need to wake up and do the responsible thing by legalizing all the medicine for all the patients that would benefit from cannabis as medicine. You trust the doctors to prescribe drugs everyday. Allow them to prescribe a safe, non-toxic medicine. Floridians need to communicate with their legislators about this extremely important matter and speak up before it is too late and we have hemp instead of cannabis medicine as we need it. Please make a call to their Office.

  4. BossIlluminati says:

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    the Annapolis police chief cited the fake 37 deaths in colorado article the first day of legalization, anyone who believed that is unfit for any position, let alone chief.
    no college degree required to be a cop or corrections officer, what did you expect? big problems when your police chief believes the lies, hahahaha

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…

    love and freedom forever


  5. Fire says:

    After watching CNBC’s marijuana in America we were not impressed with the greedy selfish people of Colorado and government officials in Colorado. We would hope not to see this same greedy money grab if medical marijuana were voted legal in Florida. The dispensaries high cost to the 36% sales tax just for marijuana is just greed. Yes we support legalization and also support marijuana taken off the schedule one list of dangerous drugs but do not support everyone worshiping money as if it was the new gold rush. Marijuana is not new, and the higher THC grade might be higher is some strains today but it’s B.S. saying higher than 30 years ago. Back in 1970 we smoked red bud, 1975 gold bud that had higher THC. In fact we remember smoking marijuana called Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, Afghany killer weeds, along with ty-stick to name a few. One toke and tears would come to your eyes or you would cough a few times and the next thing you knew you were blitzed. Guess what, today were normal tax paying citizens and have served our country, some foreign some domestic, and knew then and now that all the garbage the politicians tried to sell was garbage. The real reason was to have control over it’s citizens, sound familiar? That’s cause it is. Smoke a joint, not going to hurt you. Suck down a bottle of whiskey, go into black out mode.

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