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  1. Opinion

Joe Henderson: The sale of CBD oil will soon be legal in Florida. It's about time.

A water-soluble CBD product is offered at the Your CBD Store in Largo. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Jun. 26

Mentioning the word "marijuana" in this state will set fire to the hair of most lawmakers. Florida's emergence from a state of reefer madness has been, shall we say, tentative.

It took a constitutional amendment in 2016 to legalize the use of medical marijuana because for years Tallahassee lawmakers seemed to believe anyone using pot for pain relief had to be a drug-addicted zombie from Woodstock.

Even after voters overwhelmingly approved medicinal marijuana, Tallahassee's response has been to stall, stammer, and erect as many roadblocks as possible for its use — including a silly provision that patients couldn't smoke the drug.

Gov. Ron DeSantis set them straight when he all but ordered the Legislature to get off its high horse and let the will of the voters carry the day. It's a start.

Society did not collapse.

So, it's on to the next step. On Monday, July 1, the sale of CBD oil will become legal in Florida. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient in marijuana. It won't get you high, but proponents say it will make you feel better.

It is said to be useful for treating ailments like arthritis and chronic pain, epilepsy seizures, anxiety, insomnia, and even high blood pressure. Many people swear it's a wonder drug, although scientists are running tests to see how effective it really is.

It's kind of the wild west with the oil now. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a former medical marijuana lobbyist, said her office is establishing guidelines for what can or can't be sold as CBD oil. For at least a little while, buyers should beware.

This stuff has been around for a long time and appeared to be readily available, even if it wasn't legal in Florida. You probably remember the case of the 69-year-old grandmother who was arrested and spent 12 hours in jail after a bottle of the magic oil was found in her bag during a security check at Disney World.

The woman is from North Carolina, where it is legal. She appeared stunned to find out the rules were different in Florida.

Prosecutors quickly dropped the charges, but the damage was done. Becoming the star of the 6 o'clock news while being led away in handcuffs over a small bottle of oil will ruin a day at The Mouse.

Frankly, I never understood the hysteria over pot.

Do you know that in Florida, you can go to jail for up to one year for merely possessing 20 grams or less of weed?

That's insane.

I wouldn't be surprised if many of the same people who say that weed is the devil's tool knock off a couple of beers or scotch whiskeys after work or play. And for pain relief, everybody knows the best way to address that is with a bottle of opioids so Big Pharma can increase profits.

That's sarcasm, by the way.

Fried told Orlando Weekly that statistics show medical pot has a positive impact on the opioid crisis.

"We've seen statistics all across that the country that any time there's a medical marijuana program, or even when they get to legalization, there's a 20 to 30 percent decrease in opioid overdoses," she said.

But now that medical marijuana is legal and CBD oil is about to be, what's next?

Powerhouse Orlando attorney John Morgan is pushing for a constitutional amendment to join 11 other states and legalize recreational marijuana. A bill that would have done just that died in the Legislature this year without even a hearing, but the issue isn't going away.

It shouldn't.

One step at a time, though, and the next step is CBD oil. It seems like it might be something worth trying.

Maybe it can help my balky rotator cuff.

Contact Joe Henderson at JoeHTampa@gmail.com.

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