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Legalizing Marijuana: Should Florida Do It?

As legalization laws go into effect in two states, we’d like to hear your take on what Florida should do.

A crowd of hundreds gathered to light up joints under the Space Needle in Seattle this morning as recreational marijuana use officially became legal in the state of Washington.

A similar scene is likely to unfold on the streets of Denver in the coming weeks as Colorado’s marijuana legalization law goes into effect.

In Washington, it is now legal for people to possess up to one ounce of the drug, which is illegal in most states, including Florida. While the new state law in Washington doesn’t usurp federal laws that criminalize marijuana use, local cops are no longer going to give people age 21 and up a hard time for lighting up a joint in the privacy of their own homes. The public display at the Space Needle technically remains illegal, but police in that state decided to let it fly on the morning pot smoking became legal there.

Cops in Washington seem to be taking a rather nonchalant approach to the new state rules, too.

The Seattle Police Department has issued some interesting directives to its officers.

Police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee is quoted on the Huffington Post as saying, "The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a `Lord of the Rings' marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."

He also quoted the cult classic film "The Big Lebowski": “The Dude abides, and says `take it inside!' "

Colorado’s law goes into effect on Jan. 5. Washington state, the Post says, anticipates the new law will bring millions of dollars into the state’s coffers as regulations begin to go into place.

While lighting up a joint at home – or in public – remains illegal in Florida, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue Tampa Bay! Do you think our state should look at decriminalization? Should the federal government review its own laws? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Elo February 12, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Please excuse all the typos, I was in a rush. :)
Ken Hinnenkamp February 12, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Of course, keeping marijuana illegal is all about the money. Funding for the DEA, privatized prisons, drug testing firms, etc. And the idea is promoted by the same people who would restrict our freedom. Redirect the money into education and treatment for those who seek it and we will all be better off. Fortunately the public is becoming more informed on this issue and as we do, we will demand that the money be directed to more useful endeavors. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/legalizations-biggest-enemies-20130117 http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/legalization-hits-the-hill-20130206
chanta larkins February 17, 2013 at 11:01 PM
I had a cold and it sure did help me shitt
MaryJane~ February 22, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Obama should open his eyes and legalize weed all over the country. First off marijane never heart a soul and its just plain rediculous that america made nature illegal. But let's bring Obama into this again, imagine all the bussiness we can make all over the country from the selling of this plant, we would create more jobs like Obama wants.
maxiPad3gs February 23, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Gina Scott is a LIAR ! her sister did not get epilepsy from smoking marijuana. In fact google the L.A. times article on how marijuana has been used successfully to treat epilepsy. Wow what a terrible LIE .. how childish of this person to attempt to demonize marijuana for their own agenda .. HATER ..
Kelly gipson February 24, 2013 at 05:25 PM
let's look at some facts. there are hundreds of legal drugs that were FDA approved that have class action lawsuits against them for causing death , kidney, liver and heart disease ,birth defects and the list goes on. only a few people have problems when they smoke marijuana. and just like alcoholics some people abuse marijuana. but the benefits of smoking pot far outweigh the dangers. and if you don't wanna smoke it, just make some brownies. yum yum.lol and if Florida was to legalized growing it we could become the capital of high quality paper in the country. we plant a field of marijuana that grows to full hieght in 1 season. that puts people to work in the beginning of the season and in the end of the season. where you plant pine trees one year and in 20 years you go back to harvest them. if we were to grow commercial grade hemp, we would need people to work the fields year around. hemp also makes a better quality paper with 1 third of the chemicals needed to make paper. Florida has the perfect climate to do this. growing hemp would get Florida out of the red, were we could lower taxes and put our firemen and police officers back to work all while lowering our taxes. and for those who don't know commercial hemp,, you can't get high from it.
David Hardingham February 24, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Also Hemp is one of the most efficient item for making Biofuel and also makes a softer and more durable cloth then cotton does plus as hemp cord was use in all the parachutes in WW1 and 2 as it was also stronger. It also can be turned into plastic so you are very correct it would be an economic boon as even the tax income from medical marijuana would bring millions into the economy
Dee Dokumaci February 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM
First of all I am neither against it or for legalizing pot yes I agree it is less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco or prescription drugs which are all legal however it is a known fact smoking this herb relaxes the body to the point of falling asleep, we all know there will be people who will abuse this privilege by smoking then driving so who can honestly say irresponsible drivers will not fall asleep while driving & cause an accident, another problem is keeping it away from those who are under 21, I have proof to back this up, an article in Patch about 18 year old who got caught trying to sell it at a local high school, here's the link http://safetyharbor.patch.com/articles/teen-arrested-for-allegedly-selling-drugs-at-school which nobody has commented on, all those who are for legalizing it what is your solution to that problem?? now to my understanding local law enforcement is not going to arrest anybody if it is legal but feds will still be able to arrest because it is federal law if arrests are made at federal level, tax payers are going to be left with that burden by still paying higher taxes so before you all get too excited about the possibility of legalizing it better make sure all the problems relating to these issues are all resolved! As for President Obama I like his comments on this issue, it is best to read his interview with Walters; http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2012/12/14/obama-ive-got-bigger-fish-to-fry-than-pot-smokers/
Ken Hinnenkamp February 25, 2013 at 01:16 PM
What makes anyone think that because pot is illegal that it is less available to under age people than it would be if it were legal? Frankly, I think the opposite would be true. If it was available via legal distribution to people of a certain age, there would be less incentive to sell it on the street. Your argument is not well though out. You are correct about state vs fed enforcement. That is why it needs to eventually be resolved at the federal level. Prohibition was repealed the same way, start in the states, and repeal the amendment at the federal level. No time like the present to get started. Enforcement of the marijuana laws is ineffecient, ineffective and wastes money in terms of both enforcement and incarceration. Our drug laws also export guns and violence to Mexico. The laws against marijuana were formed to protect W.R. Hearst's investment in fibre. He lobbied for the law and produced Refer Madness to make his point. It was all about money, not about protecting the public. Frankly, the laws have done more harm to the public than they have helped anyone (except of course the dealers and the Mexicans). There is a large market waiting to be tapped by growing and marketing hemp and the medicinal form of the herb. The tax revenue would not be insignificant at a time when we desperately need it. Shift the dollars from enforcement and incarceration to better uses of the funds. What are we waiting for?
Dee Dokumaci February 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM
I think my argument is well thought out especially since there is proof to back it up with the 18 year old trying to sell it at a local high school, when you make the legal age 21 there will be all those who are under 21 trying to buy it from someone who is 21 or they will steal it from their parents, I also would like to point out to you my views support what President Obama said, here's a little excerpt from the link I have above "The president, who smoked pot often in high school, told Walters that he does not support general legalization “at this point.” It’s the same position he’s taken throughout his political career, despite his own history. “There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” Obama told Walters. “My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.” I applaud President Obama for the fact he wants to protect the kids which is the way it should be, I emphasize once more I am sure there are many responsible adults over 21 but there are that many irresponsible adults who I guarantee will abuse the privilege same way alcohol, tobacco & prescription drugs has been abused, good day to you Ken!
David Hardingham February 25, 2013 at 07:00 PM
getting pot in school is now and has been for a long time been far easier than getting cigarettes and alcohol for underage kids. As when an item in demand is deemed illegal the criminal black market take over and can shown if you look at history of probation also look at firework’s here in Florida there legal but we cannot get thing like ashcans which are a metal rapped with a water proof fuse M-80 and blockbusters which are equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite. But in NY were all fireworks are illegal there as easy to find around the fourth of July as pizza is there
Ken Hinnenkamp February 25, 2013 at 07:01 PM
You cite the fact that President Obama used pot (and tried coke by the way) when he was in high school. This is more evidence that the fact that it is illegal does little to keep it out of young peoples hands. The problem is that we as a society are clogging the courts and putting people in jail, for what? Answer me that. What benefit do you see? I see none. Switzerland and Portugal just decriminalized drug use and did not see an uptick in the use of formerly illegal drugs. Now they are able to redirect law enforcement to more important activities. Our priorities as a nation are all fouled up. A recent article in the Rolling Stone magazine titled Too Big to Jail discussed the illegal activities of London based bank HSBC, caught red handed suppressing their illegal activities, handling the money laundering for murderous drug lords and rogue nations under sanctions. They get away with rigging LIBOR rates and other crimes with minor fines and slaps on the wrist. And you would advocate jailing harmless pot smokers because kids might get a hold of some. Are you even aware of what the elite are getting away with when they break the law? Probably not.
Dee Dokumaci February 25, 2013 at 08:42 PM
There is no talking to you sensibly, why is it you like twisting complete opposite of what I said now as adults 21 & over there are many who are responsible to not abuse any kind of privilege given to them maybe all of you in here are responsible law abiding citizens who will not ABUSE if it does become legal, by all means I think it is wrong to jail simple possession while the hardened criminals are free to roam & continue their criminal activities constantly, there is no balance in the law everything is topsy turvey but please don't tell me there won't be immature adults who will abuse the privilege now personally I don't smoke this herb but have known those who do, I don't like the smell of it & do request that is not done in my presence, I feel if it is legalized which is doubtful according to President Obama's feelings about it, he makes it clear he opposes it, I applaud him for his honesty in admitting he did smoke it in his younger years but he wishes he never did, I also remember when President Clinton admitted he smoked but never inhaled it so be it anyway for all the sake of responsible adults who prefer MJ over alcohol or prescription drugs I agree with your decision & wish you good luck but in case it is legalized lets make sure kids are protected from it :)
Devin Jackson February 26, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Well, according to my calculations, weed is a plant, and it grows like that, and we just so happen to set it on fire.
Ken Hinnenkamp February 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM
I agree that keeping drugs away from our young is important, but as Jesse Ventura says, responsibility for parenting should be borne by the parents. There are already laws on the books against contributing to the delinquency of minors. I'm sure that the vast majority of parents would not give their children drugs and alcohol regardless of the law, but there are always exceptions. We could up the penalties for contributing if we thought it would do any good.
Diane Carlstrom February 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM
You ever hear about drug dealers selling beer, gin etc? No. There is also something to be said about removing the taboo. If it is not forbidden fruit there are those that simply are not interested. In the mean time Florida is losing millions in the form of new business start up as well as losing millions spent in law enforcement which could be put to a far better use. Drug abuse like many other societal ills we suffer, is a mental health issue. Yet we keep cutting mental health programs and attach all kinds of stigma to the very idea of anyone getting mental health help. In this age of scarcity when many can not get the medical help they need or are forced into bankruptcy due to illness wouldn't it make sense to give people an option that can actually promote good health and bring many desperately needed jobs to our state? There shouldn't even be a question about it. at this point.
matthew andrick March 08, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Not one person has ever died from smoking weed but many people have died from alcohol. Or pills so why not legalize marijuana everywhere in the world
legalize March 14, 2013 at 08:48 AM
it is not a gateway to other drugs i have illegally smoked recreationally for years and i have no possession charges because i have always been respectful of my standing in this great country of ours and while I am tired of this unwarranted persecution by the police there was one who told me to get rid of my weed and let me go. He also knew that i was no criminal.
joshua pearson March 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Legalize it...It's for the best. Pills with crazy side effects such as possible heart attacks, death, certain risks...why not cut pills out of the question for SOME conditions, Marijuana, IF grown safely and correctly can get rid of dangerous side effects yet get rid of pain at the same time...i say LETS DO IT FLORIDA!!
cMarkg March 21, 2013 at 12:04 AM
I would like to think that somewhere in Government there are honest logical people. Why would anyone think that a prohibition on marijuana would work when a prohibition on alcohol proved to be an utter failure? As has been said before in these posts, the beginning of this War on marijuana was pure greed. I will add my voice to those that wish Marijuana to be made legal everywhere, if it needs to be made medical first so be it. There really is far too much evidence pertaining to it's benefits as a medicine to keep it illegal.
cMarkg March 21, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Because people in positions of power do not pay attention to History.
cMarkg March 21, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Joe, I fail to see why you would resort to name calling when people just want the 'right' to do as they please. Someone using Marijuana to ease their illness are far less harmful to others than the person drinking their pains away, drunks can and have been violent to themselves and those around them. So...take a deep breath and relax.
Randy April 21, 2013 at 11:09 PM
$2,500 in Okaloosa county Fl. I had less than a half joint. Florida needs the money that bad legalize it please. Outlaw stupid polititions and judges. More money can be had by legalizing it. Wake up Florida.
Denise Houston April 23, 2013 at 01:42 AM
http://www.unitedforcare.org/denise
lee nelson April 23, 2013 at 02:47 AM
most of the usage of marijuana is like a glass of wine, beer , or a good drink , it takes the edge off the hard day at work , if done at home , not out in public , is fine put the same laws on it as alcohol , put the tax on it , educate the people let them make a choice , after 44 years of usage i am hard work tax payer in this great state of florida and doing just fine , remember GOD made good man made not so good
Diane Carlstrom April 23, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Click on the link above from Denise Houston! That will take you to a page that will show you how we will get this done- maybe with your help! It is time for everyone that believes we should joing the growing number of states that allow medical use and maybe down the road recreational (another issue) Join us and lets get it done!
Daman_Money May 05, 2013 at 08:10 PM
In a way i agree let these dumb ass pot heads have there pot let them have all the side effects of it to but on another hand i think the state makes more money busting people for it then making it legal. But really it does way more harm to the body then cigarettes but since so many are addicted to it they will just argue it anyway.. I have seen three people in my life die of lung cancer that never smoked pot and constantly smoked weed and yes kids have died from pot inducing a seizure so yes it does claim lives but pot heads will act like it does not claim lives until it is made legal and the law sites people and test them for pot when they are recognized for having a conviction. Really if Florida just tested every person that came in to the jail house they would have a great study on how most crime is comited by pot heads and people with substance abuse in general. Either way i don't care i just assume not put anything in to my body alcohol or pot or anything else and i don't have to fight for the right because i don't give a flying shit because i don't have an addiction or excuse to need narcotics. Medical journals and study have proven its bad as hell for you though but addicts that have all the time in the world have the time in there meaningless lives to fight for it even though its not a cure for shit and it doesn't have a track record in comparison to any man made drug! End of story! If you never did it your wouldn't care just by coming on here your admit! Addicts!
Daman_Money May 05, 2013 at 08:18 PM
ou guys have a problem with self control and you also have very addictive personalities to care as much as you do! I mean if you never broke the law and did it you would never know! Your law breakers! And you have bad attitudes! and you should have your civil rights revoked and your license suspended and you should not work either! And by coming here you admit it and not just that but that your are shitty parents also! And the offspring's of retards think deeper dumb asses! Get off the pot for a few years and then think until then no one can trust you or what you say because your law breakers and your under the influence and admitting to addiction. Dumb asses that's all im going to point out!
Daman_Money May 05, 2013 at 08:28 PM
In a way i agree let these dumb ass pot heads have there pot let them have all the side effects of it to but on another hand i think the state makes more money busting people for it then making it legal. But really it does way more harm to the body then cigarettes but since so many are addicted to it they will just argue it anyway.. I have seen three people in my life die of lung cancer that never smoked cigs and constantly smoked weed and yes kids have died from pot inducing a seizure so yes it does claim lives but pot heads will act like it does not claim lives until it is made legal and the law sites people and test them for pot when they are recognized for having a conviction. Really if Florida just tested every person that came in to the jail house they would have a great study on how most crime is commited by pot heads and people with substance abuse in general. Either way i don't care i just assume not put anything in to my body alcohol or pot or anything else and i don't have to fight for the right because i don't give a flying shit because i don't have an addiction or excuse to need narcotics. Medical journals and study have proven its bad as hell for you though but addicts that have all the time in the world have the time in there meaningless lives to fight for it even though its not a cure for shit and it doesn't have a track record in comparison to any man made drug! End of story! If you never did it your wouldn't care just by coming on here your admit! Addicts!
cMarkg May 06, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Another ignorant naysayer spouting off wrong information concerning Cannabis. It is rarely addictive, depends on the individual, Cannabis has never killed anyone by overdose. You cannot say that about those pharmaceuticals you so dearly love Daman_Money. Alcoholics commit the vast majority of domestic violence in America. Medical Journals and Studies have shown the amazing cancer fighting and pain fighting benefits to Cannabis. It would truly benefit this discussion if you would research this topic for yourself before you start getting involved in the discussion. Ignorance is just so ugly.

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