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Senior Citizens Leading the Charge for Medical Marijuana in Florida

Vote comes in November for recreational and medical purposes; most say senior citizens will decide the outcome, which could make this the 23rd state to approve it for medical use

Picture source http://a.disquscdn.comJuly 22, 2014 - The campaign to legalize marijuana use – especially for medical purposes – is riding the winds of victory that are blowing from the west coast to Florida, where a vote in November seems poised to make its use legal there. What is becoming obvious in the Sunshine State is that senior citizens may be the key to victory, making Florida the twenty-third state, plus the District of Columbia, allowing some form of marijuana use for medical purposes.

Most senior citizens favor the initiative according to pollsters, which is called the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Amendment 2.

“What we’re hearing from older voters is not a lot different from the electorate as a whole,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, which landed the issue on the ballot, according to USA Today.

“For the most part, it’s not a controversial topic…If their doctor recommends a particular treatment plan, whether it’s a medication regimen, a new diet, exercise, yoga or medical marijuana, they should be able to follow their doctor’s orders without being treated like a criminal,” he said.

Florida's governor has already signed into law a very limited version of medical marijuana — one that allows production and sale only of a special strain that's low in THC (main ingredient in marijuana), according to a report by National Public Radio (NPR). “As part of that law, just five nurseries will be allowed to grow it. They have to be large operations that have been in business in Florida for at least 30 years.”

Senior citizens, many desperately seeking relief from pain, mental problems or other unsolved ailments, are clearly the target of those pushing for the legalization in Florida.

The Weed Blog says, “Traditionally, one of the hardest demographics for marijuana reform supporters to convince is the senior demographic. It’s important to reach this demographic, because it’s also the demographic that votes the most.”

“Senior citizens grew up being taught that marijuana is evil, and for decade after decade they were exposed to misleading marijuana propaganda. As a result, many seniors across America are reluctant to support recreational and even medical marijuana legislation and initiatives.

 

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“This is a sad thing, because seniors benefit more from medical marijuana than most other demographics. It’s no secret that as people age, their body begins to experience aches and pains, and sleeping becomes more difficult, in addition to other conditions.

“As the great Robert Platshorn of The Silver Tour points out, medical marijuana can replace many prescriptions that seniors take, especially those relating to pain and insomnia. ‘Isn’t it better to go to sleep with a smile?’ is something I’ve heard Mr. Platshorn say. Robert Platshorn is a senior citizen himself FYI.”

The National Cannabis Industry Association estimates medical marijuana will be a $785 million industry in Florida.  Estimates go even higher by the State of Florida that projects sales may range from $138 million to $5.6 billion, according to First Coast New and USA Today.

Regulations that would set up a market for medical marijuana in Florida are still at least a year away, says the NPR report, but cannabis entrepreneurs from around the country are already setting up shop in the state. In Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando, there’s a business conference every few weeks devoted to a product that’s still illegal.

Las Vegas Kingpin Sheldon Adelson Gives Millions to Oppose Marijuana in Florida

In Florida, the opposition to medical marijuana legalization is gaining steam. It was revealed last week that casino magnate and owner of the Las Vegas Sands empire, Sheldon Adelson, has been a major contributor to the effort against a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida - Amendment 2 on the November ballot. Adelson donated $2.5 million of his $37 billion fortune to the “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” effort.
>> More at The Fix

Appears Most Seniors Want Marijuana Legal

Senior citizens in Florida support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if a doctor prescribes it, according to the Quinnipiac University Poll released in May. And, the seniors are overwhelmingly in favor – 84 to 13 percent against among voters over age 65.

That’s just slightly below the results for all Florida voters who favor the medical marijuana questions by a margin of 84-13 percent.

But seniors are not onboard, at least yet, for recreational use being legal in Florida. Voters over 65 years old opposed this measure by a margin of 61 - 33 percent.

Voters 18 to 29 years old support recreational marijuana 72 - 24 percent, with voters 30 to 64 years old in favor by smaller margins.

Interestingly, the poll found among voters 50 to 64 years old, 62 percent admit smoking pot, more than any other group. Hey, remember the baby boomers?

Some seniors prefer marijuana to narcotic painkillers. Angie Wilt, 65, of Canaveral Groves, would rather use marijuana to alleviate her husband’s shoulder and back pain, according to a report in The Fix. “It would be so nice to have the option of giving him medical marijuana on an as-needed basis, instead of the narcotic pain meds he takes,” she said. Her husband suffered a massive stroke in 2009 that affected his right side.

Not Everyone is For Medicinal Marijuana

Amendment 2’s opposition includes the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Medical Association, as well as the state’s own Gov. Rick Scott, reports The Fix.

“There are many people who think marijuana relieves pain. Marijuana is not an analgesic. You can get more pain relief from aspirin than marijuana, if you’re talking about it in that sense,” said John Anderson, 87, of Cocoa Beach. Anderson is a former chairman of the Brevard GOP and a retired nurse anesthetist. He claimed most medical marijuana advocates “have no idea about the pharmacology or the pharmaceutical-therapeutic dynamics of any drug, whether it’s aspirin or some fancy beta blocker.”

There is little support for medical marijuana among government agencies or main-stream health groups.

“Many have called for the legalization of marijuana to treat conditions including pain and nausea caused by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other conditions, but clinical evidence has not shown that the therapeutic benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its health risks,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“To be considered a legitimate medicine by the FDA, a substance must have well-defined and measurable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next. As the marijuana plant contains hundreds of chemical compounds that may have different effects and that vary from plant to plant, and because the plant is typically ingested via smoking, its use as a medicine is difficult to evaluate.

“However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of other chemicals found in the cannabis plant—such as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound that is being studied for its effects at treating pain, pediatric epilepsy, and other disorders.”For more information, see DrugFacts - Is Marijuana Medicine?

The NIDA also has published a special warning that will grab the attention of many senior citizens.

Marijuana, Memory, and the Hippocampus

“Memory impairment from marijuana use occurs because THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; the main active ingredient in marijuana, which acts on the brain to produce its effects) alters how information is processed in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation,” according to the NIDA.

“Most of the evidence supporting this assertion comes from animal studies. For example, rats exposed to THC in utero, soon after birth, or during adolescence, show notable problems with specific learning/memory tasks later in life. Moreover, cognitive impairment in adult rats is associated with structural and functional changes in the hippocampus from THC exposure during adolescence.

“As people age, they lose neurons in the hippocampus, which decreases their ability to learn new information. Chronic THC exposure may hasten age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. In one study, rats exposed to THC every day for 8 months (approximately 30 percent of their life-span) showed a level of nerve cell loss (at 11 to 12 months of age) that equaled that of unexposed animals twice their age.”

>> What is marijuana?

 

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