Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pushback against Legalizing Marijuana in Florida; Group Says Medical Benefits Little, but Harm to Society Considerable

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pushback against Legalizing Marijuana in Florida; Group Says Medical Benefits Little, but Harm to Society Considerable

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Dixon

TALLAHASSEE | A push to put language on the 2014 ballot legalizing medical marijuana is starting to face public opposition from conservative critics who argue the proposal is unconstitutional and does not offer the medical benefits proponents describe.

Saving Our Society from Drugs, a St. Petersburg group that fights marijuana legalization proposals across the country, blasted the medical marijuana initiative in recently filed written testimony.

The group points to a study that says increased marijuana cultivation can have a negative environmental impact, highlights the danger of "drugged driving," and shows that the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate marijuana.

"Simply put, crude marijuana does not meet the standards of modern medicine," read the testimony, which was written by Amy Ronshausen, the group's interim deputy director.

Her testimony was filed with the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which is tasked with determining the proposed amendment's economic impact.

Ben Pollara, campaign director of People United for Medical Marijuana, the group organizing the ballot initiative, said Ronshausen must not "understand the purpose" of the meeting.

"Interim Deputy Director Ronshausen's statements are ridiculous on their face and irrelevant to the ongoing fiscal impact estimating process," he said.

THOUSANDS AFFECTED

The office's economists estimate that a range of between 175,000 and 450,000 people in Florida would qualify for medical marijuana under the proposed ballot language. They came to that estimate by applying the experience in other states that passed various legalization measures to Florida's 2012 population.

Inflating the figures are those who use pain relievers for "nonmedical" purposes. During a Monday meeting, state economists said they estimate 676,090 Florida residents will be using a range of pain relievers, including marijuana, for nonmedical purposes by 2015. …

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