Ruth: Only a matter of time before Fla. goes to pot

Although I am not an expert on the topic of cannabis, it is possible this may have been a "Reefer Madness" first: succumbing to paranoid delusions before even taking the first hit off a joint.

In 1969, a bunch of us Gannon University scholars had traveled down from Erie, Pa., to Meadville to hang out at a classmate's house while his parents were on vacation. Great imbibing ensued.

Someone eventually rolled a doobie. There's a first time for everything, and since one's freshman year in college is dedicated to committing as many sins as possible, the moment had arrived for my first experience with demon weed.

Even before I inhaled, I had images of being busted as FBI, DEA, Secret Service, ATF agents and probably the Visiting Nurses Association operatives rushed in to arrest everyone. I saw myself doing life in Leavenworth, sharing a cell with Charles Manson because of a momentary flirtation with finding my inner Keith Richards.

That didn't happen. In fact, nothing happened. I discovered something that night. I discovered that marijuana did absolutely nothing for me. I discovered what I already knew. I'm a drinker, not a stoner.

A few months from now, Florida voters will vote on legalizing a medical marijuana constitutional amendment. In a state driven by intense differences over such things as common core educational standards, growth management rules, public transportation and gun control, the Dave's Not Here Amendment of 2014 is expected to pass overwhelmingly. The vote in Gainesville alone could be more lopsided than the results of the recent Egyptian presidential election.

There has been no shortage of high-toned arguments by supporters of the Alice B. Toklas Act of 2014, who say the use of "medical marijuana" will be dedicated to alleviating the suffering of those afflicted with cancer, or glaucoma, or Parkinson's Disease. And there is clinical evidence the unique properties of Lady Jane do help with pain management.

But the wording of the amendment cuts a pretty broad swath in giving physicians discretion to write a ganja permission slip to deal with pain for just about anything from cancerous tumors to hangnails to anxiety attacks over missing the last episode of Breaking Bad. Do you get the feeling we're about to see an outbreak of anguished suffering across the state that can only be healed by a Maui Wowie brownie?

That may explain while precise regulations over the use of medical marijuana have yet to be worked out. It is likely the final rules will strictly govern the number of dispensaries, impose restrictions on the location of marijuana markets, prohibit anyone with a criminal record from getting into the roach business, require electronic monitoring of plants, impose testing protocols for pesticides and mold, and create draconian penalties for trafficking outside state guidelines.

Still, let's be realistic. Once the Bill Maher Amendment of 2014 passes, Florida is going to have to change the official state color to purple haze.

For all the medicinal white coat protestations legalizing marijuana will be for therapeutic use only, the more practical result will be: "Acting funny, but I don't why. Excuse me while I kiss the sky."

And the likelihood Florida will be rigorously inspecting marijuana emporiums to make sure everyone lighting up a jimmy is really at death's door or enfeebled by some horrific malady is sheer poppycock. Why is that?

Consider that for this year alone Colorado is on track to collect $40 million in taxes and fees from its legal marijuana market. If a state with a fourth of the population of Florida can make that kind of money, imagine the revenue potential here once the Snoop Dog Act of 2014 takes effect. What bureaucratic imbecile is going to tamper with the goose that laid the golden bong? What else can you say except, Wow, man!

That's not to say there shouldn't be some common sense rules regulating the ingestion of (snicker, snicker) "medical" (cough, cough) wacky baccy.

For example, no more than two people should be allowed to toke off the same saliva-soaked joint. That's disgusting. You're not in college anymore.

And can we have some truth in advertising? If you are selling a strain of weed called Dr. Leary's Leaves of Oblivion, can you honestly claim it is has restorative powers?

Can we at least agree that not even the Cheech & Chong Amendment of 2014 should allow excessive earwax to be treated with a primo fatty?

Ruth: Only a matter of time before Fla. goes to pot 06/06/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2014 5:01pm]

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