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
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
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,
“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.
“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
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.
Kingpin Sheldon Adelson Gives Millions to Oppose Marijuana in
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
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
Senior citizens in Florida support
allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if a
doctor prescribes it, according to the
University Poll released in May. And, the seniors are
overwhelmingly in favor – 84 to 13 percent against among voters over age
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
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
“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
“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
“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.”
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