Experts debate merits of medical marijuana

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Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 11:10 pm

BRADENTON, Fla. -- People from both sides of the issue came out to the State College of Florida Wednesday night to hear discussion about a proposal to amend the state constitution to allow medical marijuana in Florida.

"We think this amendment is about compassion and helping people like my Mom who died without medical marijuana," said Larry Heiny.

Larry Heiny says his mother could have survived cancer of the pancreas if she was allowed to smoke marijuana.

"Politicians and Sheriff's don't have any business in medicine. I think doctors and patients should be involved in medicine," he said.

But a few seats away, Margaret Ford sat opposed to the measure. Why?

"Because I had a dear relative involved it it when they were younger and I saw the damage it can do and saw it as a gateway to worse drugs," Ford said.

A standing room only crowd watched experts from different parts of society with very different opinions, all hashing out the burning issue of medical marijuana.

On one side is the statewide coalition director against medical marijuana. Jessica Spencer says minors won't need parental consent.

"Because the word 'confidential' is written in there so they have a constitutional right to go without parental consent," Spencer warned.

On the other side is the President of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, Cathy Jordan, who developed ALS nearly 30 years ago and thought she was near the end until she smoked marijuana at a party.

She says it helps for a variety of illnesses.

"Diseases that effect the brain, and cannabis effects the brain," Jordan said.

If voters do approve medical marijuana in Florida, Palmetto Police Chief Rick Mills says they're ready.

"If someone is transporting medical marijuana, they'll have to have the required medical marijuana card," Chief Mills said.

Some in the audience just came out to learn more so they'll be able to make an intelligent vote.

"I'm interested to see if it has a medical application and if so, how? And what kind of controls it has because I'll be voting on this in November," Josephine Motter said. Motter said at this point she's not sure how she'll vote.

Each independent poll has shown a majority of respondents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical uses in Florida. If approved, Florida would be the first state in the south, and the 21st nationwide.

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