As changes in marijuana laws sweep across the nation, states such as Florida continue to be in a state of limbo. While some areas have legalized both medical and recreational use, others continue to grapple with the system's strict penalties that can come with even one small possession charge. Lawmakers and residents alike have increased their efforts to completely legalize marijuana in the state, thus helping those who face damaging penalties and those who need the drug for medical purposes.
Just weeks ago, The Tampa Bay Times highlighted Florida's marijuana laws and the ways some residents still face a number of limits. The Times focused on one family who were relieved to discover medical marijuana's legalization, yet nevertheless struggle to find the right strain of marijuana to help their young daughter battle seizures. Reasons for this obstacle include a limited number of growers in the state; as a result of this regulation, there are fewer new strains introduced to experiment with potential health benefits. Although Florida legalized medical use years ago, some patients face obstacles posed by state health officials. The end result may still be up in the air, but in the meantime, patients continue to suffer.
Unlike harsher drugs, marijuana has many benefits that can work toward healing a variety of ailments. As WFTV Channel 9 recently reported, efforts to legalize marijuana across all boards have been slow but steady: by 2016, a large majority of voters were in favor of fully legalizing medical marijuana. WFTV acknowledges this progress but also points out that it can take roughly 13 years for states to shift from medical to recreational marijuana legalization. While the popular vote appears to reflect a positive response to the topic, the real challenge lies in the hands of the party in power. Some Republicans have warned that legalization could lead to higher crime rates and threatened safety, while Florida Democrats argue that the drug should be taxed alongside alcohol and tobacco. Change could be right around the corner, but until then, Florida patients and inmates struggle to cope with the state's strict marijuana laws.