By Steve Elliott
Marijuana advocates might have an extra reason to celebrate if Florida voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment which would legalize cannabis for medicinal use: Passage of Amendment 2 would also preempt Florida's "bong ban," which forbids the sale of pipes or paraphernalia used to smoke pot, according to the head of the organization which backs the amendment.
Amendment 2's definition of marijuana's medical use includes "related supplies," points out Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, reports James L. Rosica at The Tampa Tribune.
Anything currently outlaws as "drug paraphernalia" in Florida, including "metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes," may be legally sold if used to smoke cannabis to treat medical conditions, Pollara said.
That would even include "2-liter-type soda bottles," which Florida lawmakers somehow found it necessary to ban when used with a controlled substance.
The former University of Florida Levin College of Law dean who drafted the language for Amendment 2 didn't disagree with Pollara's interpretation, but said it would probably be sorted out in the courts.
By Steve Elliott
An anti-marijuana group in Florida is making new claims that legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes could lead to date rape.
The group "No On 2" recently posted an ad on Facebook asking, "Will the face of date rape look like a cookie?" In the ad, a man and a woman are portrayed hugging, with an arrow pointing to a Photoshopped cannabis cookie in the man's back pocket, reports Jeff Skrzypek at WPTV.
"I absolutely thought it was fake," said Florida state Senator Jeff Clemens, who supports medical marijuana. "I thought it was a joke."
The ad opposes Amendment 2, which will appear on the Florida ballot in November. If the amendment gets 60 percent or more of the vote, it would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
Clemens said he simply couldn't believe No On 2 would post such an outrageous ad.
"I think any woman should find that offensive to somehow suggest that if you use medical marijuana to deal with a health issue ... that somehow that's going to make you more susceptible to rape," Sen. Clemens said. "It's really beyond the pale."
Hundreds commented on the ad on the No On 2 Facebook page, with many claiming it was inappropriate and offensive.
Florida MMJ Seminars on Wednesday announced in collaboration with HighDrive Digital Group, marketers for the medical marijuana industry, a seminar in Florida on the benefits and science of medical marijuana and the importance of voting “Yes” on Amendment 2 to make it more accessible to patients in need.
Educators at the seminar have more than 150 years of combined experience, according to the group, which called it "a must attend for everyone who will be involved in the medical marijuana industry – doctors, lawyers, nurses, educators, and entrepreneurs."
"Growing medical marijuana can be very lucrative, and there are only a couple of hundred seats available for the seminars," reads a prepared statement from Florida MMJ Seminars.
Florida is experiencing a huge demand for the cannabinoid medical treatment, especially considering that it is the largest homestead for baby boomers and holistic medical centers. The Florida Veterans Affairs department is one of the largest in the country with more than 1.5 million veterans residing and many in need of the medical marijuana treatment.
The topics covered in the seminars will be aimed at potential patients, clients, business partners and medical professionals:
• The role of Endocannabinoid System in the medical treatment
• Potential use of cannabinoids and a general overview of the history, licensing, and Charlotte’s Web
• Proposed Florida law guidelines and business growth
• Economics of dispensaries, grows, security systems and holistic treatments
By Steve Elliott
The Miami-Dade Police Department on Friday morning invited news media to an event so secret, only two members of the media were actually allowed to watch. The event was the burning of 225 55-gallon barrels of marijuana at a secret location.
The department organizes such top-secret burns of cannabis and illegal drugs several times a year, reports Emma Court at the Miami Herald. How many times? Well, we don't know, since that's a secret, too.
Multiple police stood guard at the secret Broward County location with machine guns while the marijuana was burned. Clearly, this was Serious Business.
Two or three pallets of boxed narcotics were destroyed along with the 225 barrels of marijuana, said police spokeswoman Elena Hernandez, who said the drugs were no longer needed as evidence.
It wasn't possible to calculate how much marijuana was burned, since the weight of each barrel differed, according to Lt. Alberto Somoano, who works in the evidence section of the Miami-Dade Police Department's forensics bureau.
That, of course, makes it mighty convenient for pot to be pilfered by partying police. If they don't know how much they're destroying, it would be mighty easy for some uniformed oinker to stuff his pockets full, don't you think?
By Steve Elliott
As Floridians get ready to vote on medical marijuana in November, months of campaigning by both sides hasn't moved the numbers at all. A new poll shows 88 percent support for medicinal cannabis, the exact same level of support shown in May.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's numbers are significant, reports Dan Sweeney at the Sun Sentinel, because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll -- "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot," a disinformation campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No On 23, a project of Drug Free Florida.
As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass in November.
An incredible 95 percent of voters age 29 and younger support the measure in the new poll.
Notorious anti-pot activist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, claims the amendment would result in an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, shady doctors authorizing it for almost any ailments, and access for minors. But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana, and that there are already state laws in place which would require parental consent before minors could be authorized.
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana has found its natural audience in Florida -- senior citizens. A big majority of the Sunshine State's older residents say they will vote yes this November on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2. It would legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Florida.
Among those older than 65, a whopping 84 percent support the initiative, according to Quinnipiac University poll this spring, reports Florida Today. Support across all age groups is even higher, at 88 percent.
The same survey found that 62 percent of respondents ages 50 to 64 have admitted to smoking pot at one time, the largest of any demographic, according to Phil Ammann at SaintPetersblog.
To amend the state constitution, the measure needs at least 60 percent of the vote in November.
Floridians have come a long way in the past few years when it comes to knowledge about marijuana, according to Robert Platshorn, who hosts Meet the Experts medical marijuana seminars.
By Steve Elliott
It was bound to happen, and now it has: The first of a planned national chain of medical marijuana dispensaries has opened. The very first Kaya Shack opened Thursday morning in Portland, Oregon, and began sales to licensed medical marijuana cardholders.
The Kaya Shack dispensary opened at 10 a.m. in a 1,000-square-foot storefront near Southeast 17th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. As required by Oregon law, the company has a state resident responsible for the dispensary.
The planned Kaya Shack chain is owned by the Florida-based Alternative Fuels Americas, Inc. (AFAI) majority owned subsidiary Marijuana Holdings Americas, Inc. Marijuana Holdings Americas is one of only a handful of out-of-state companies that have ventured into Oregon's medical marijuana market in the past 16 years, since voters approved medicinal cannabis at the polls in 1998.
"Our analysis showed that Oregon was the next state of any significance," CEO Craig Frank told the Portland Tribune's Kevin Harden in May. "So we focused on Oregon."
The opening places AFAI as the first publicly traded company in the United States to own a majority interest in a marijuana dispensary conducting legal sales of cannabis, according to the company.
"We are very excited to be opening the first Kaya Shack," said Frank. "We believe our brand is unique and inviting, and out staff is well trained to provide a friendly and knowledgeable consumer experience."
Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, is leading with a lop-sided margin in the polls. With change seemingly on the way, the Florida Medical Marijuana Institute's Regulatory Seminars are aimed at entrepreneurs and investors, doctors, lawyers and pharmacy owners across Florida, who seek insight into Florida's likely regulatory landscape.
"People ask us, 'How will your Regulatory Seminar address regulations that haven't yet been issued?'" said Jan Frel, director at the Florida MMTC Institute, a business education school offering a Regulatory Seminar on July 12 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami. "There is an abundance of useful information to use as a guide for Florida's likely regulatory scenarios; the right mix of experts can provide invaluable business guidance."
Regulatory seminars will be offered every three weeks through November, according to the Institute.
The Institute draws its analysis from the Amendment 2 language on Florida's November ballot, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act approved by the Florida Legislature in May, regulatory approaches in other medical marijuana states, and current Florida statutes regulating related industries, such as the production and distribution of alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
By Steve Elliott
John Morgan, the man who has led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, has donated $4 million more of his own money to the campaign.
Morgan is pushing to pass Amendment 2, and he says it's for his dad, his brother, and others who may suffer from debilitating diseases, reports Kendra Conlon at WTSP.
"It's all frivolous until it happens to you," John's brother Tim Morgan said. Tim broke his back in 1977 in a lifeguarding accident; he's now quadriplegic, with excruciating pain that has only gotten worse over the decades.
"I had cancer in 2003 and a pacemaker put in two years ago," said Tim, who added that medical marijuana gets him through the day as director of Morgan and Morgan. "You just break out in a sweat for no reason; you smoke pot and it stops. Why? I don't know; I don't care. It works."
"With my dad, he was dying from emphysema," John Morgan said. "It gave him appetite on Day 1, and it took away his anxiety."
If Amendment 2 passes with 60 percent or more of the vote (as a constitutional amendment, it needs more than a simple majority), it would allow doctors to authorize patients to use medical marijuana, with the state regulating production and distribution.
"I have never met one person -- because there's none -- who has ever died from a marijuana overdose, ever," John said. "It's so simple and so easy, and that's why I think it's going to pass."
By Steve Elliott
Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday signed into law a bill allowing the limited use of Charlotte's Web, a specialized strain of marijuana with high cannabidiol (CBD) and almost no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The "Charlottes Web" strain, which is used to quell seizures, is non-psychoactive and is named for a Colorado girl whose seizures have been lessened by the strain.
Florida legislators passed the measure earlier this spring with bipartisan support after emotional appeals from parents seeking Charlotte's Web for their kids, reports Bill Cotterell at Reuters.
The reason they asked for, and got a law specifying, the Charlotte's Web strain isn't because it's the only high-CBD strain of cannabis; there are in fact several others. The reason is because Charlotte's Web is the only high-CBD strain mentioned in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Weed 2 documentary, so that's the only one the Florida of which the parents and legislators in Florida were aware.
Of course, the Stanley brothers in Colorado are more than happy to have laws written in other states that specifies their particular strain, since they stand to make millions of dollars from it.
By Steve Elliott
A recent poll in Florida has shown support for medical marijuana at almost 90 percent. The medicinal cannabis question on the ballot could even affect the gubernatorial race. But in a move of questionable political wisdom, deep-pocketed Republicans have raised more than $7.7 million to fight Amendment 2, a proposal to allow doctors to authorize seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.
The latest financial reports from the two biggest groups fighting medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State show that the Drug Free Florida campaign alone has raised $2.7 million, including a single $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP wheeler dealer Sheldon Adelson, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.
Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the richest men in the world, and not coincidentally, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He spent $150 million supporting GOP candidates in the 2012 elections -- almost all of whom lost.
Joining the Republicans in their anti-pot fight this week was the supposedly "non-partisan" Florida Sheriffs Association, which began sponsoring an inane, almost fact-free "educational campaign" against the medical marijuana amendment.
By Steve Elliott
Florida continues its run as one of the most entertaining states in the union this week, as cops arrested a man on domestic battery and drug charges for whipping his brother with some three-foot marijuana plants.
Rodney Brown, 31, and his 33-year-old brother Jackie got in a big argument at their shared home in Lakeland, reports WESH.com.
While fighting with his brother, Rodney uprooted several cannabis plants on the property, some up to three feet tall, and started hitting his brother in the face with them. The brother didn't take too kindly to that, and apparently called the police.
Rodney then foolishly allowed the arriving cops to search the property. They found 10 more cannabis plants outside, and "drug paraphernalia" inside the house.
Rodney was taken to jail, where he posted bail.
Photo of Rodney Brown: New York Daily News
By Steve Elliott
An anti-marijuana group operating the website DontLetFloridaGoToPot.com has claimed that minors would be allowed to use medicinal cannabis under Florida's proposed November ballot amendment, but that's just not true.
Among the talking points of Don't Let Florida Go To Pot is the claim that "The amendment allows a teenager to get a recommendation for medical marijuana without the consent of a parent," reports Joshua Gillin at the Tampa Bay Times.
Amendment 2, the proposed change to Florida's state constitution, calls for the state to allow patients with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and other conditions to be authorized for medical marijuana by a physician. If 60 percent of voters approve the amendment, the state will be required to set up a medical marijuana dispensary system and write regulations for growing and selling cannabis.
More than 40 "coalition partners" are listed by the Don't Let Florida Go To Pot website, and, according to the Orlando Sentinel, is run by Save Our Society From Drugs, a St. Petersburg-based wingnut lobbying group, along with the Florida Sheriffs Association.
By Steve Elliott
Amendment No. 2, the medical marijuana question on Florida's ballot for the November general election, is supported by more than 80 percent of Sunshine State residents, according to the latest polls. But a new group, the Vote No On 2 campaign, has launched a website and video denouncing the amendment as legalizing weed for "money for dope dealers."
The organization claims that the amendment would allow unrestricted sale and use of cannabis by anyone, even minors, in a virtually unregulated setting like that in California, reports William March at The Tampa Tribune.
The group's web video uses scenes from the Venice Beach boardwalk, where marijuana dispensaries and storefront doctors allow people to get authorized and buy medical marijuana within minutes.
But backers of Amendment 2 deny these claims, saying the amendment is designed to allow only legitimate medical use under rules set up by the Florida Health Department and Legislature.
The video also injects racial undertones into the debate, according to state Senator Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens), who said last week that its use of a black former drug dealer to stoke fears of unregulated marijuana sales is fear-mongering.
Racing fans might wonder whatever happened to one the world’s most exciting young stars, 1986 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Randy Lanier. These days, Lanier can be found at Coleman Federal Prison in Florida where he is in his 26th year of incarceration serving a sentence of life without parole for a first time, nonviolent marijuana offense.
At the time of his indictment, Lanier was poised to become one of racing’s all time greats. In 1980 he had four wins in his own, self-financed 1957 Porsche Speedster. In 1984 he earned the IMSA GTP Championship and was named “Most Improved Driver.” His 1986 Vanderbilt Rookie of the Year award preceded his 1986 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year nod. By 1987, the United States federal government had put an end to his racing dreams.
Lanier had no prior offenses, and no weapons were involved in the “continuing criminal enterprise” he was accused of running, While others were indicted and incarcerated, only Lanier and one other remain behind bars.
Like most prisoners serving life sentences for marijuana Lanier’s refusal to “cooperate,” in other words indict others, helped bring about his sentence of “natural death” in prison.