Medical Marijuana in Florida

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By: Troy Kinsey

Tallahassee, Fla. -- For 27 years, Cathy Jordan has lived with ALS, Lou Gherig's Disease, a neurological disorder that makes it tough to talk, to walk, to breathe, and to swallow.

She says she's tried pretty much every pain medication there is, but that nothing works nearly as well as marijuana.

What’s the problem? Here in Florida, it's illegal.

In February Cathy and her husband were busted for growing marijuana.

That's led to an outpouring of public support for their drive to legalize medical pot.

“It really shows me how much more support we have than what we don't have,” Cathy Jordan, Florida Cannabis Action Network, said. “We have the people's hearts and minds. We just have to get the politicians' hearts and minds. These are real people and this is something that's going on.”

Not that Democratic politicians aren't on board; they've filed bills to make medical marijuana a reality.

But the republicans who control the capitol aren't giving them a hearing.

From high blood pressure to cancer and even dementia, there's evidence pot could offer the kind of relief patients can't find at the pharmacy right now, but, it's also a powerful drug with the potential for abuse.

Critics warn marijuana is a gateway drug, powerful enough to make people think about upgrading to much more dangerous stuff, like cocaine and heroin.

For Brittney Chance, a college student who admits she's had friends who smoke pot, that's hard to believe.

“If it was laced with some other type of drug, then yes, it could be a gateway drug, but if it's just straight marijuana as a plant, it can't be a gateway drug, I just don't believe that,” Brittney Chance, Thinks Marijuana is Safe, said.

What's more, only people with chronic illnesses would be able to smoke it legally…people like Cathy.

Under the legislation, Florida farmers could get licenses to grow medical marijuana on their land.
They'd be able to sell their harvest to licensed 'dispensaries' where patients could have their prescriptions filled.

The bill's backers say between the licenses and taxes on pot sales, the state could collect hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue.

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