Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writer

Stephen Nohlgren

Stephen writes about the Tampa Bay Rays' quest for a new baseball stadium, aging and other topics.

Phone: (727) 893-8442, or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8442

Email: nohlgren@tampabay.com

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  1. Times/Bay News 9/Graham Center Poll: Support for medical marijuana amendment slips dramatically

    Blog

    A constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is in serious jeopardy.

    For more than a year, the amendment seemed to enjoy broad support, cutting across political, racial and age lines.

    But with opposition forces financing TV ads and sheriffs showing up at forums, support for the amendment has slipped dramatically, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll....

  2. Times poll: Florida medical marijuana amendment in deep trouble

    State Roundup

    A constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is in serious jeopardy.

    For more than a year, the amendment seemed to enjoy broad support, cutting across political, racial and age lines.

    But with opposition forces financing TV ads and sheriffs showing up at forums, support for the amendment has slipped dramatically, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll....

  3. Barnstorming by bus, John Morgan tours Florida to tout medical marijuana

    Elections

    TAMPA — Outside the University of South Florida student center last week, a luxury bus originally customized for rock stars idled by the curb. The soft hum of its air conditioning was drowned out by students chanting, "Yes on 2! Yes on 2!''

    In the bus, Mr. Marijuana warmed up for another day of barnstorming.

    Multimillionaire lawyer John Morgan, 58, said he did not foresee this whirlwind 19 months ago when he took over a campaign to legalize medical marijuana by putting it in Florida's Constitution. But he clearly has embraced it....

    CHERIE DIEZ   Times
  4. Morgan rallies USF students to support medical marijuana amendment

    State Roundup

    TAMPA — With less than a month to go before Florida voters decide whether to legalize medical marijuana, attorney John Morgan told an audience of about 100 college students Tuesday that he needs them to get supporters to the polls.

    "Get your friends. Grab them by the hair. Grab them by the feet. And make sure they vote on Nov. 4," said Morgan, chairman of United for Care and the most visible proponent of the measure....

    Larry Heiny waves a sign of support for Amendment 2 after a medical marijuana rally Tuesday at the University of South Florida, part of the United for Care Medical Marijuana October Bus Tour.
  5. Pro-pot group suggests rules for medical marijuana in Florida

    Elections

    As Election Day draws near, opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment permitting the use of medical marijuana in Florida have been on the attack, alleging that approval would lead to dangerous consequences.

    Wednesday, backers of the amendment tried to allay such concerns by issuing a list of recommended regulations for the state Department of Health to put in place.

    If the measure passes, the state will have until next summer to draft regulations and put the system into place. In other states, the details of growing, distributing and using medical marijuana can fill hundreds of pages of regulations....

  6. Blacks disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession in Pinellas, Hillsborough counties

    Local Government

    Black people in Pinellas and Hillsborough are at least six times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white people.

    It's not because of who smokes pot and who doesn't.

    Federal surveys show that 10 to 12 percent of both races use marijuana at least once a month.

    What does differ is how pot marketplaces unfold in various neighborhoods and how police agencies respond....

    Two small bags of what looks like marijuana were found Thursday by police in an area known for pot sales west of U.S. 19 near the Pinellas Technical Education Center in St. Petersburg.
  7. United for Care poll shows strong support for medical marijuana

    Blog

    A new poll shows continued strong support for Florida's proposed medical marijuana amendment, United for Care announced Monday. The poll of 1,004 likely voters, taken Sept. 12-18, showed 69 percent of respondents in favor, and 28 percent opposed. The margin of error was 3.1 percent up or down.

    The result was consistent with three other polls commissioned by the organization since January 2013, all showing support in the 70 percent range....

  8. State NAACP endorses Amendment 2

    Blog

    The Florida State Conference of the NAACP endorsed Amendment 2 on Tuesday. President Adora Obi Nweze noted that African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by debilitating disease. "It is vital to ensure that all health care options are on the table,'' she said.

    "At a time when the African-American community is disproportionately impacted by debilitating diseases and conditions such as certain cancers, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia, it is vital to ensure that all health care options are on the table,” said Adora Obi Nweze. “The scientific community has consistently concluded that medicinal marijuana can improve the quality of life of certain sick and suffering individuals.”...

  9. Times/Bay News 9/Graham Center poll: Many voters still unsure about medical marijuana amendment

    Blog

    Though early polling showed overwhelming support for medical marijuana in Florida, a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll indicates that many likely voters are still unsure about a constitutional amendment that would allow it.

    “It’s not the slam dunk that previous polls suggested,’’ said Dr. Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center and director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “There are still a lot of people who don’t know about it, haven’t thought about it or haven’t made up their minds.’’...

  10. Times poll: Many voters still unsure about medical marijuana amendment

    State Roundup

    Though early polling showed overwhelming support for medical marijuana in Florida, a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll indicates that many likely voters are still unsure about a constitutional amendment that would allow it.

    "It's not the slam dunk that previous polls suggested,'' said Dr. Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center and director of the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "There are still a lot of people who don't know about it, haven't thought about it or haven't made up their minds.''...

    Medical Marijuana [iStockphoto.com]
  11. MS patient talks about relief she finds with marijuana (w/video)

    Health

    SEMINOLE — Peggy Alcorn, a 68-year-old retiree, exercises every day in her swimming pool. • She hangs onto the edge for an hour — bouncing, swaying, kicking and singing to a mix of 1980s hits streaming from her computer. Every 15 minutes or so, she picks up a pipe and takes a few puffs of pot. • Alcorn has multiple sclerosis. She says marijuana has eased her symptoms dramatically. And she hopes that — come Nov. 4 — she will no longer have to worry about breaking the law. • On that day, voters will decide whether to amend Florida's Constitution to allow marijuana use for medical purposes....

    Peggy Alcorn, 68, suffers from multiple sclerosis and smokes marijuana in her pool between songs as part of her daily dance workout. She says dancing in the pool for about an hour and smoking a small amount of pot is enough to make her able to move without pain for the day.
  12. Potential health risk of medical marijuana: It's complicated

    Elections

    Humans have cultivated marijuana for thousands of years — using fiber for cloth, oil for food, smoke for ceremonies and chemicals for medicine.

    Scientists know that compounds found in pot can alter physical and mental functions, lending credence to sick people who say marijuana alleviates their symptoms.

    But marijuana — especially in its smoked form — carries risk....

    Jim Buresch, 45, who is HIV positive, poses with a year’s worth of bottles (the darker ones on the left) that contained marijuana he bought from an unofficial, unlicensed dispensary when he lived in Seattle. The other bottles are a year’s worth of medication he takes for symptoms now.
  13. Why they smoke: Medical marijuana and Floridians who use it

    Elections

    Floridians will decide Nov. 4 whether to add medical marijuana to the state Constitution, testing if a cultural change fostered in the liberal West and Northeast can penetrate the South.

    Hundreds of small studies have shown that pot holds potential for lessening pain, stimulating appetite, fighting nausea, alleviating movement disorders and slowing the spread of some types of cancer.

    But that science is not a slam dunk argument for passing Florida's proposed Amendment 2. ...

    Toby (right) waits while his owner Jim Buresch, 45, who is HIV positive, smokes marijuana to help with joint pain before taking their daily morning walk. Buresch says the drugs he takes to fight HIV disease made him vomit and eliminated any interest in eating. Pot minimized nausea, restored appetite, helped with joint discomfort and helped his frame of mind. "I wasn't as depressed. I wasn't as traumatized. I wasn't just sitting around waiting to die,'' he said.
JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times

  14. Study suggests medical marijuana reduces opiate overdoses

    Elections

    In a finding that could ripple through Florida, a study released this week reported that the average number of narcotic painkiller overdoses in medical marijuana states is 25 percent lower than would be expected if pot use weren't legal.

    The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, estimated a reduction of about 1,700 overdoses in 2010 in the 13 states that had medical marijuana systems up and running then....

    A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests medical marijuana reduces opiate overdoses.
  15. Window closing for Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Carillon Business Park

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Amid much fanfare two years ago, developer Darryl LeClair unveiled bold plans for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium at Carillon Business Park in the Gateway area.

    It offered a St. Petersburg solution to the team's pleas for a new stadium, and it was about 15 minutes closer to Tampa than Tropicana Field.

    But no one from the Rays ever approached LeClair, who is close to giving up on his dream of building a mixed-use stadium, office and residential project on 16 acres he owns south of Ulmerton Road....

    The stadium, illustrated above, would be part of a Gateway-area development including apartments, retail, offices and a hotel.