SARASOTA, FL - A constitutional amendment for medical marijuana in Florida qualifies for the 2014 ballot a move that has those on both sides of the issue speaking out.
"I find that cannabis edibles help with my pain more than any pain medicine every did," said Jesse. He is one the many Floridians who not only support marijuana for medical use but has seen the effects first hand.
"I have been suffering with chronic pain for more than 15 years and I've tried every pain medicine that they can come up with. And, it caused more problems than the pain because the addiction from the medicine was ridiculous," added Jesse. He says he took hundreds of pills a day. Finally, he decided to try something unconventional.
"I took a pilgrimage to California and I seen a doctor out there and he told be I can treat all my conditions with cannabis," Jesse said as he showed recommendations from the doctor.
And, soon Jesse may not have to go to California. United for Care, one of the organizations pushing a medical marijuana ballot initiative announced it collected enough voter signatures to get the issue placed on the 2014 ballot. But organizations like First Step Addiction Recovery says the initiative could cause more harm than good.
"There is research to show that there is addictive capacities in marijuana and that kids that start smoking it earlier than 18 and they are heavy smokers their IQ will drop as much as 8 points," said PJ Brooks and addiction specialist with the organization. Brooks say there is little to no research to support the claims of marijuana's medical benefits. And that there are other motives driving the efforts.
"Something is being pushed upon the community as a way of legalizing it and that really this is not about medical marijuana, this is about not getting arrested for having marijuana," added Brooks.
But organizations like "FloridaCan" disagrees, saying the ballot initiative is just one of several efforts towards getting medical cannabis to those who need it.
"If you've never had someone who looked into this option or tried this medicine itsn't not personal to you. People that stand in the way of it look like dinosaurs, they look like they've got their head in the sand and they certainly aren't doing their homework. This is a safe effect alternative therapy for millions of Floridians," said Jodi James from FloridaCan.