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Sheriff Manfre on Medical Marijuana: “I Am Receptive to the Arguments Favoring the Amendment’s Passage”

| May 9, 2014

It has its benefits. (adrien/salvi)

It has its benefits. (adrien/salvi)

By Jim Manfre

The debate over medical marijuana arouses great passion and great hysteria from both sides. I understand law enforcement’s instinctive reaction to the idea of legalizing the use of marijuana in any form. It is hard to consider changing the law on a substance you have spent your entire career enforcing by arresting people who buy, sell or use marijuana. I have the same professional reaction to this debate, but it has been tempered by an emotional response as well.

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre. (© FlaglerLive)

When I moved my family to Florida, it was a difficult choice because my Mom who we were all very close to did not want to make the move with us. After a few snowy New York winters without me there to shovel her driveway, she consented to sell her home and move to Palm Coast. She went in for a final checkup with her doctor before she moved and he unfortunately found a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancerous. Her first year in Florida was spent undergoing radiation treatments and the subsequent complications. Both from a mental and physical standpoint her fight with breast cancer has taken its toll and she has been in decline ever since.

From this experience, I am sensitive to the arguments made by proponents of Amendment 2–the proposed who believe that medical marijuana can ease the symptoms of radiation treatments and provide relief to people like my mother. (Amendment 2 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize the use of medical marijuana once prescribed by a doctor.) Although I have not made up my mind how I will vote on Amendment 2, I consider both sides’ arguments as follows:

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Proponents of the amendment argue that twenty states have approved medical marijuana. The evidence at this time indicates that allowing physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in certain cases has helped alleviate suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, chronic pain and epilepsy and has not caused the social nor criminal problems that opponents have warned will come to Florida.

Opponents cite Florida’s struggles with the illicit use of prescription medication and that medical marijuana may create the same type of illegal markets. In 2010, opioid analgesics such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone accounted for over 16,000 overdose deaths nationwide.

Proponents argue that recent medical studies suggest that having the option of medical marijuana to manage chronic pain leads to decreased usage of these addictive pain medications and that there has not been a single recorded death attributed to marijuana overdose anywhere in the U.S.

Opponents argue that medical marijuana usage results in increases in criminality in those states that have legalized its usage. There are concerns that because marijuana usage is still prohibited by federal law, financial institutions will not be able to do business with medical marijuana providers, further exposing cash-only businesses to crimes of larceny.

Proponents state that a recent study from the University of Texas concluded that there has not been an increase in crime rates in those twenty states that legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Opponents point to the dangers of patients driving under the influence of medical marijuana and the increased accidents and injuries that could result.

Proponents state that most of the commonly used drugs in our country such as over-the-counter allergy, cough, cold and flu medications are known to impair driving ability, but as a society, we believe the therapeutic benefits of these medications outweigh the risks and so it should be also for medical marijuana.

Opponents argue that the use of medical marijuana will lead to a significant increase in the use and availability of the drug for illicit purposes.

Proponents argue that the text of Amendment 2 (and the subsequent interpretation of the Florida Supreme Court) makes it clear that medical marijuana will be tightly controlled and only made available to patients suffering from “debilitating ailments that are certified by a licensed Florida physician” and that marijuana is already available illegally now to anyone who wants it.

Without a doubt, the medical marijuana issue is one that should not be taken lightly, and although I am not prepared to fully support the idea, I am receptive to the medical arguments presented favoring the amendment’s passage. Each side will try to make this a political issue. For me it comes down to whether medical marijuana has a medically beneficial effect and if it could help my Mom or any of our loved ones from the debilitating side effects of radiation treatments or the other diseases it claims to affect.

Jim Manfre, an attorney, was elected Flagler County Sheriff in November 2012. He also served as sheriff between 2001 and 2005.

15 Responses for “Sheriff Manfre on Medical Marijuana: “I Am Receptive to the Arguments Favoring the Amendment’s Passage””

  1. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget medical heroine and medical cocaine. Why do things half way? Send the country quickly over the edge.

    • ryan says:

      oh, please. There is no reason for medical cocaine or heroin.

      • Really?! says:

        The federal government lists cocaine as a Schedule 2 substance, which says it does have medical value in some forms. Marijuana is a schedule 1, which means no medicinal value at all. The American Medical Association actually endorsed the use of marijuana prescribed by doctors. The only ones holding this up are politicians and the pharmaceutical companies that make billions off pills. They are afraid of losing profits as marijuana can be grown by people themselves. Think about that for a second. Federal govt says cocaine has value, marijuana does not. Idiotic.

    • Legalize Recreational Marijuana says:

      I agree… Legalize recreational marijuana and criminalize cancer-causing beer.

  2. jack says:

    well said

  3. Florida Native. says:

    Let’s see….. Manfre…… New Jersey…… Liberal thinking….. Weed……Teenagers……Drama……..Burglaries…..Crime……..Families……Morals……Churches…..Working people…..Responsibilities…..Yep this is still Palm Coast.

  4. Steve Wolfe says:

    Many if not most medicinal compounds come from naturally occurring chemistry of plants. Why not use the same method to put THC in pill or liquid form? I don’t see a health benefit from smoking anything. Also we have seen the words of a few stoners right here who believe that Amendment 2 will make all pot use legal. And we have heard arguments equating pot with alcohol which is legal. I still believe that 2 wrongs don’t make a right, and legal pot access will make it spread, so we’ll wind up with more people impaired in public and behind the wheel.

    Jim Manfre is not just a sherrif, he’s a politician. He has to have a platform and weigh his positions. I think his most recent advocacy for gun control and Amendment 2, while measured, lean the wrong way. I appreciate Jim offering his views on these and other topics. It is important for the citizenry to know how the sheriff thinks.

    • ryan says:

      The pill form is still a pill, so I say just leave people alone who use it in natural form.

    • B says:

      But the facts say something different. If you think prohibition keeps anyone who abuses marijuana from getting it, you are naive or foolish. Look at the facts form Colorado. The REAL facts.

      The only people who can’t get pot today are patients who need it. And even some of them have to go find a slimebag seling pot ona street corner. Absurd way to run a country. Every child over the age of 12 (maybe lower) knows where ot get marijuana in a couple of hours. The ONLY way to keep it out of most kids hands is to put the black market out of business. And the only way to do that is full legalziation.

      But back to medical. There are hundreds of documented cases of people being told to go home and die by the medical community, and were healed by cannabis. Inoperable brain cancers. Untreatable seizures. MS/Lyme. And beyond those people witha death sentence, cannabis helps tens of thousands of people with conditions poorly treated by Pharmaceuitcical drugs, with less side effects and much less risk. Why is it okay to give someone an addictive opiod (heroin based drug) but not let them grow a relatively harmless plant in their backyard? Why should someone with cancer pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for chemotherapy that causes more cancer, when a $10 seed and a few months in the garden can provide enough medicine to add years to their life ? Not everyon ehas insurance to pay $200k a year for chemo. SHould older people die just so you can live in your fantasy that you are “protecting the children”? Because the only ones you are protecting are the 10% that profit from prohibition. But you are hurting and KILLING the other 90% of us.

  5. tulip says:

    I am FOR MEDICAL marijuana, especially where I read and saw on tv that there will be different strengths of it and will be prescribed accordingly. In fact there is a strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web. It is very mild, and mostly injected, but can be used in pill form. It is so mild that a person cannot get high on it. It is now being used for certain types of seizures in children and apparently is very effective.

  6. m&m says:

    If they’re going to approve drugs why not gambling and casinos. If they bundle the two they will have my vote. Drugs alone attracts more criminals then we already have..

  7. I say fully legalize pot , not just medically but for everyday use , then ban the two biggest killers in this country alcohol and cigarettes they are both way way way more addictive and dangerous then pot , but that`s the politicians drugs of choice, look at House Speaker Boehner , don`t think Ive ever seen him without bloodshot eyes racist bottle baby

  8. AMOS says:


  9. ryan says:

    It is stupid to put people in jail for just pot. Anyone who is for putting cancer patients or those with sever medical problems in prison or jail for using cannabis in their own home has a seriously twisted way of thinking. I am more concerned with the heroin and cocaine problem, as well as the prescription drug abuse problem that no one has the courage to discuss. I think that if law enforcement would let REAL crime get out of hand, locals would have to be stuck worrying about that and would put things into perspective for them, rather than calling the cops on someone smoking a joint on their back porch or turning in people who have a yard sale without a permit, you know how folks are around here.

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