TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- On Election Day, voters in Colorado and
Washington passed amendments that would legalize the recreational use of
marijuana for people 21 and older.
Could that happen in Florida? In the past, medical marijuana bills have been filed, but never voted on, in the House and Senate.
"I think it will happen because of money," said Randy Heine, owner of Rockin Cards & Gifts in Pinellas Park.
Heine said it could be a way for the state to think green in more
ways than one. Under Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, the first $40
million in non-medical marijuana taxes would go to the state's public
school construction fund.
"Nobody's talking about this here in our state," Heine said. "I'd like to see that here."
So would 80 percent of people who responded on the 10 News Facebook page.
But others say they would not support legalization. They point to the
fact that federal law still prohibits possession of pot, and the impact
of that on Colorado and Washington is still to be determined. Others
say they want the recreational use of marijuana to be banned because
they call it a "gateway drug".
"This is an area of intense debate among the medical community, and
it's certainly been politicized, which has made it difficult to come out
with any sort of definitive statements," said USF Morsani School of
Medicine Assistant Professor Ryan Estevez, MD, PhD.
According to Dr. Estevez, those who use marijuana regularly can be
more likely to eventually use harder drugs. But he said research has
shown just a correlation, not necessarily that one causes the other.
"There are certainly a lot of people who are able to use it
responsibly and recreationally," he says. "But there is going to be a
percentage of the population, much like alcohol, that is going to abuse
it and suffer consequences from it, both medically and societally."
Back at Heine's shop, he says 10 percent of his customers have left
for Colorado over the years. The state has allowed medical marijuana
since an amendment passed on it in 2000. He's hoping someday, it will
get the green light here.
"I'm not lazy, I don't lie, I don't steal, I don't cheat. I just
work," Heine said. "I love to work. And pot has helped me through some
of the rough times."
First Coast News