A pro-marijuana group is currently collecting signatures to qualify an initiative that would legalize marijuana under the guise of medicine in the state of Florida.
So, what's the harm, you may ask.
After all, California's Proposition 215 is called the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and we all want to be compassionate to those who are suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, or end stage cancer.
In looking at the facts, it's not quite so simple.
Marijuana is illegal for a reason. It has numerous health risks, including poor memory, panic attacks, paranoia, persistent anxiety, decreased coordination, increased heart rate and blood pressure and difficulty concentrating.
More troubling is the lack of data on its usefulness as a medical treatment at all - most medical associations, including the American Medical Association, do not support smoked marijuana as medicine.
Unlike other medication, "medical" marijuana is not approved by the FDA for use. It is not tested, it has no quality controls and it is not required to be processed in a sterile setting.
Proponents of "medical" marijuana would have you believe that only those with debilitating physical conditions who have unsuccessfully sought out other, effective, approved treatment will qualify for "medical" marijuana. One only has to look at the numbers from other states to see how widely the programs are being abused.
In California, of the 300,000 to 400,000 individuals using "medical" marijuana, the highest percentage of individuals are 18-25 year old males.
In cities like San Diego, where the issue has been closely examined, 2 percent of those smoking marijuana under the guise of medicine have conditions such as AIDS, glaucoma or cancer.
Ninety-eight percent are being treated with "medical" marijuana for back and neck pain, anxiety, muscle spasms or insomnia.
In North Hollywood, there are now more "medical" pot clubs than Starbucks.
Let's look at the cost to businesses.
Medical marijuana legislation limits the rights of the employer to sanction marijuana users in the workplace or to terminate a person based on a positive drug test as long as the individual tested is using marijuana under the guise of medicine.
Years of marijuana prevention and education in Lee County would be undermined by the passage of a bill legalizing marijuana.
The 2008 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey found that marijuana use has declined in Lee County, with lifetime use declining from 29.8 percent in 2000 to 24.8 percent in 2008.
Overall-past-30-day-use went from 15.6 percent in 2000 to 13.0 percent in 2008. Seventy-nine percent of youth surveyed reported that it would be wrong or very wrong for someone their age to smoke marijuana.
States that have legalized "medical" marijuana rank in the top ten for states with the highest marijuana use in the 12 and older age category.
Do we want to send a message to our children that smoking marijuana is acceptable?
"Medical" marijuana is not "compassionate."
JUNE 27, 2010