Sunday, March 09, 2014

Medical Marijuana in Florida

The proponents of medical marijuana are gaining political strength and support and have almost unlimited financial support to promote their issues. Therefore, its important to keep abreast of the latest developments and news: In today's Miami Herald an article titled "Medical marijuana poised for ad-war win" reports that a January 2013 poll found medical-marijuana support at 70 percent. A Kitchens Group survey in July found 71 percent approval. Public Policy Polling surveys in October and this January, respectively, found 62 percent and 65 percent support. And Quinnipiac University’s poll in November found the highest support for the concept, 82 percent. Florida attitudes have been changing along with the nation’s. In November, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 48 percent of registered voters favored legalization for adults and 46 percent were opposed. The Republican state Senate district poll, conducted last month by the Tarrance Group, found that 47 percent of likely voters favored outright legalization and 48 percent opposed legalization. And voters strongly backed lighter prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. A major difference between the two polls: The Tarrance poll was in selected Republican-held state Senate districts where voters are more conservative; the Quinnipiac survey was a statewide survey that polled all types of voters.The Senate poll indicated that support for Charlotte’s Web stood at 79 percent in favor, 18 percent opposed — mirroring support for the broader medical-marijuana effort. Compared with a similar GOP Senate poll in April, support shifted a net 24 percentage points in favor of Charlotte’s Web. Voters by 65-28 percent favored reducing prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and, by 78-15 percent, they supported prison-diversion programs for those convicted of nonviolent crimes. BUT its also important to understand that the argument that medical marijuana leads to complete legalization can be a potent tool to defeat the proposed amendment. In my opinion it crucial to point out that the proponents of medical marijuana are painting a very rosy picture of marijuana's alleged medical benefits claiming treatment success for diabetes,multiple sclerosis, cancer and glaucoma. District 25 Florida House Representative Charles David "Dave" Hood, Jr., a Republican, even suggest that the federal government knew about its benefits since 1975 but continued to ban the medical application of marijuana! This is a blatantly false and misleading statement based on conspiracy theories. As medical professionals we should emphasize that there are VERY limited known medical applications and that clinical trials are necessary to verify and substantiate those claims. Furthermore, we should inform the public that we do have FDA approved cannabinoids available in the US for > 20 years! Dronabinol (Marinol) FDA approved in United States as Schedule I drug for appetite stimulation (1992) and for nausea (1985); moved to Schedule III effective July 2, 1999. Nabilone (Cesamet) Originally approved by the FDA for use in the US in 1985, but removed from the market until re-approved by the FDA on May 15, 2006 and made available in US pharmacies on Aug. 17, 2006. Other products could follow IF clinical efficacy, indications and safety can be established and verified. In my opinion the Florida House and Senate engages in legislative malpractice by approving a form of medical marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy WITHOUT clinical trials and the absence of any research that is needed to protect patients from potential adverse effects and harm. If physicians would engage in such behavior we would be sued by the very law firm which supports the legislation of medical marijuana. As a result of this legislation licensed marijuana dispensaries, often owned and operated by non-medical "social entrepreneurs", would engage in the practice of medicine without a license by dispensing a medical marijuana strain to a group of highly vulnerable children suffering from intractable seizures. Who will be responsible for long-term follow up of potential adverse effects??? Who will be hold liable for potential harm? Legislation by emotion is plain and simple insane!! We must engage in the battle and focus on the fact that if medical marijuana is approved then the camel is getting his nose under the tent and legalization will eventually follow soon. Furthermore, we must make it loud and clear that medical marijuana will seep into the adolescent population and will cause grave long-term harm. Lets not give up the fight!! Yours Bernd

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