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House Members Warned about Marijuana Dangers

October 16, 2019 - 6:00am

With two looming ballot proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana in Florida, state House leaders are going on offense on the issue.

The House Health & Human Services Committee on Tuesday heard an hour-long presentation from Harvard Medical School psychobiologist Bertha Madras, who issued dire warnings about the dangers of marijuana use, particularly for youngsters.

“Marijuana is not benign. It is not safe. It is addictive. … It interferes with learning and memory,” cautioned Madras, who specializes in substance use disorders.

Madras delineated a plethora of pot-related hazards. For example, she advised that marijuana use in teenagers can increase the risk of schizophrenia and cause long-term harmful effects in adults.

“It will take years and one or two generations to fully comprehend the consequences. It took our nation more than 20 years to raise alarm bells around the opioid issue. The alarm bells are beginning to come in with marijuana, and we hope people are listening,” she warned.

Madras, who opposes legalization of marijuana, also said she is unconvinced of the medicinal value of pot, which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and which remains illegal under federal law.

Floridians in 2016 legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of debilitating conditions, and the state has 180 dispensaries where patients who’ve received approval from their doctors can buy a variety of products.

After an overwhelming majority of voters signed off on medical pot, proponents of two separate recreational marijuana proposals are trying to get legalization measures onto the November 2020 ballot.

Several of the state’s medical marijuana operators are backing what is dubbed the “Make It Legal Florida” initiative, which would allow adults over 21 to have up to 2.5 ounces of pot for personal use. The political committee behind the proposal has raised more than $1.6 million since launching the effort in September.

A separate ballot initiative, sponsored by the political committee Sensible Florida, Inc., would require the state to regulate marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. The committee has gathered enough signatures for Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot wording.

Recent polls have shown about two-thirds of Floridians support the idea of joining 11 other states that have legalized recreational pot.

But House Republican leaders, including Health & Human Services Chairman Ray Rodrigues, aren’t convinced.

“My goal today was to bring in a scientist who’s got a large body of research, who’s recognized as a national expert … who’s on the Harvard Medical School faculty, to share her perspective with us. I thought that was valuable,” Rodrigues, an Estero Republican who has shepherded medical marijuana-related legislation for the House.

Rodrigues said he wants House members to be educated on the issue when constituents ask where they stand on the proposed constitutional amendments.

“It’s important we’re equipped with facts and then share with our constituents the position that we’re taking and why we’re taking that position. I think what she has presented should bring pause to anyone who has heard those facts on whether recreational is a good idea for the state of Florida,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Madras told the panel that today’s marijuana is much more potent ---from 3 percent to 25 percent higher --- than the pot of the 1960s.

Potency has been an issue for House Republican leaders, including Rodrigues, who earlier this year tried to limit the amount of euphoria-inducing THC in smokable products sold by medical marijuana operators. The House dropped the effort when the Senate would not agree.

“High-THC remains a concern. We’re continuing to research this and see where the science is leading us on that. I would say all things are on the table, as we go through the session,” Rodrigues told reporters.

But Rep. Nicholas Duran, a Miami Democrat who serves on the committee, said he wasn’t surprised by Madras’ warnings about the perils of pot, after viewing her presentation online before the meeting.

“I anticipated this would be just a list-off of everything that’s wrong, or what’s going to go wrong, or why we need to hide our children, hide our families from marijuana,” Duran told The News Service of Florida.

Duran suggested that Republican leaders may be relying on Madras to lay the groundwork for how the House might implement recreational marijuana, should either of the proposals pass in 2020.

“Leadership on the House side is very skeptical about marijuana use in the state of Florida, even for medical purposes. There is a level of leadership who doesn’t believe it is legitimate medicine,” he said, adding that Republican legislators were forced to “begrudgingly implement” regulations after voters signed off on the medical marijuana proposal.

“I think it’s sort of the same approach to recreational,” Duran said. “It very well could be recreationalized in 2020, so we’re going to have to create a legal framework again. So maybe the idea is to plant the seeds for what they believe is the appropriate infrastructure on things.”

Florida lawmakers have the opportunity to examine how other states, such as Colorado, have dealt with recreational marijuana, “take our time, put together something that’s thoughtful, that’s pragmatic, if we’re willing to,” Duran said.

“Or are we just going to say, nah, we’ve got to believe that this is the devil, this is wrong, this is bad,” he said. “If it’s like that, then we’re not going to take a very thoughtful approach to it and what we end up putting together is not going got be useful.”

The House Health Quality Subcommittee will hear a presentation Wednesday about regulatory considerations for recreational marijuana from Andrew Freedman, who served as director of Colorado’s Office of Marijuana Coordination.

Nick Hansen, who is campaign manager for the political committee behind Make It Legal Florida, works for MedMen, a national company that is one of Florida’s licensed medical marijuana operators. Hansen told the News Service he did not watch Madras’ presentation, so he wasn’t familiar with the studies she cited showing deleterious effects from pot.

“We haven’t seen any robust amount of research or evidence to suggest anything of that type in states that are currently allowing for adult use in different forms,” he said.


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I watched part of the committee meeting where Ms. Madras testified. I heard Ms. Madras choose her words very carefully when answering questions. I heard Ms. Madras use terms such as “I think” or “it is my belief” in many of her statements. If she is such an expert, coming down to Florida to testify in front of a legislative committee. Taking time away from her Harvard University position. Then I expected much more evidence should have been provided to back up her statements. To me, it sounded like she was pushing an agenda rather than trying to educate committee members. My question, is why this committee had Ms. Madras come to Florida to testify. These legislative officials should be listening to the residents of Florida, not some Harvard educator with an agenda?

NOW they’re worried?????? Just wait until the casualties start piling up: And the bulk of them won’t be the “users”; but rather their “ victims”.

It's just a continuing laugh to see Republicans peddling pot!

It's just a continuing laugh to see democRATs peddling abortion!

But for Margaret Sanger and “Planned Parenthood”,... Blacks would be 40% of the American population (or more) by now; “genocide” is an evil practice, that Democrats have always promoted.

As usual it takes some one from substance abuse industry to point out the evils of marijuana, Madras, who specializes in substance use disorders, is like the man who cannot see the truth because his job depends on him not seeing the truth. I post an article written By Timothy N. Baldwin, JD. March 16, 2011 almost 100 years in the United States, countless resources have been spent feeding—oops—I mean, “fighting” the “war on drugs”, specifically marijuana. Before that time, marijuana was largely acceptable and viewed as inherently valuable throughout the world. Today, medical science seems to support its use for certain purposes—not to mention whatever social uses for which some may advocate its use. However, since 1937, Congress has deemed that marijuana has absolutely no medical benefit and purpose and made anyone who possesses it subject to extreme criminal penalty. The history behind Congress’ enactment is quite suspect, and the “war on marijuana” deserves objective attention. Despite Congress’ labeling marijuana as a dangerous drug without any medical use and with a high potential for abuse, fifteen states in the union (the last I looked) have declared otherwise. So, what insistent force keeps Congress from removing marijuana from CSA’s Schedule 1? Answered by historical comparison, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s reference in 1960 to the military-industrial complex should have included the marijuana-bureaucracy complex created by this “war on marijuana”. As a limited point of illustration, consider the mass raids which took place on March 14, 2011 throughout Montana by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies—spearheaded of course by federal agencies, with the state and local agencies acting as tagalongs. On March 15, 2011, the United States Department of Justice (USDJ) released a written press statement regarding the numerous and simultaneous raids which took place in the great state of Montana—one of the several states which has declared by law that marijuana in fact has medical value and is lawful to use as such. In this statement, the USDJ listed the number of law enforcement agencies involved in the raids. The following is an excerpt from that public statement, indicating at least how many agencies where involved: “[T]he Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, and local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force - Miles City” (U.S. Department of Justice, Michael W. Cotter, United States Attorney, District of Montana, News Advisory, March 15, 2011). Did you get all that?! It would take some people shorter time to read a chapter in the Bible than it would to read this list of agencies supposedly pursuing “criminal enterprises that have violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) related to marijuana.” Ibid. So, how many government agents were involved within those departments who were paid in that pursuance? How many government staff members or private contractors were involved to assist those investigations? How many high-dollar pieces of equipment and surveillance were paid for and used in those investigations? How many clerks will be needed to keep the public record files? How many pieces of paper will be printed? How many prosecutors will be paid to prosecute and judges paid to adjudicate these man-made crimes? How many public defenders will be needed to defend them? How many jail personnel are employed to make sure these “criminals” reside in jail? How many food dispensaries are paid to deliver food to these same inmates? How many fees and fines are collected from the defendants and paid to the various governments as mandated by statute? How many drug rehabilitation programs are funded by tax dollars to “treat” these “drug addicts”? How many lobbyists are paid to use such statistics to show why more taxes are needed to sustain these criminal-pursuing operations? How many tax dollars were and will be used to pay for every person and everything involved, directly or indirectly, in this “war”? The numbers would undoubtedly rise into the billions. Can anyone say job security or economic stimulation? Drawing from my own personal experience, I see the absurdity of the “war on marijuana.” During my time as a prosecutor at the Florida State Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2006 where I handled literally thousands of criminal cases and tried nearly 60 jury trials, I was never impressed that marijuana was the cause of any criminal activity. Oh sure, possession of marijuana charges comprised a large number of my criminal cases; but the criminal act was merely the man-made law of possession of marijuana. In fact, most criminal activities were in large part caused by alcohol, where one who consumed too much alcohol became violent; beat his wife; neglected his children; drove drunk and hurt someone; caused a disturbance of the peace; or other similar evils. I saw those alcohol-related cases every day. Yet, I cannot say the same regarding marijuana. I would estimate that of the thousands of cases I handled, at least half (if not more) were a direct cause of alcohol consumption or addiction. Yet, alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal. In truth, about the only reason anyone can advocate for not treating alcohol in the same legal manner as marijuana is that “alcohol is too much ingrained into societal norms.” Try to convince an inquiring child on that logic: it will not stand. This logic of course is even more disturbing considering the harsh penalties carried with marijuana laws where lives are destroyed by government action. Perhaps too many politicians love their alcohol too much to make it a target of reprisal.

QUOTE: "Bertha Madras, who issued dire warnings about the dangers of marijuana use, particularly for youngsters.".         Bertha, recreational marijuana use will continue to be illegal for youngsters. But you already know that. Did you know, Bertha, that huffing glue and other readily available substances is also illegal for youngsters? And and these substances are far more dangerous to youngsters than marijuana. Go ahead and voice your opposition to legalized recreational marijuana, but don't blow smoke.

When I hear them condemn Alcohol, a far, far, far worse drug and make it illegal they might have a leg to stand on. ...……...….And no mention how opioid, alcohol addiction is dropping where pot is legal alone would be worth it and why big Pharma, Alcohol is against it............….. That stronger pot is worse is a lie or even that it is stronger...……..Apparently they never heard of Thai Stick. that has been available from the Vietnam war...……...…. It is actually better because you smoke less cellulose from it...………... There has never been a pot poisoning death, unlike even, safer than drinking water...………........ But what is worse of all is it is illegal destroying lives because some wackos don't want anyone to have fun or relief from pain......………. Mentally ill people sometime use pot to medicate doesn't mean it causes the illness. ...…..Most people who get too high, just feed them a brownie , etc will bring them down...….....But by using a pot that takes 4-8 hits to get real high, one can easily regulate how high one wants to be, naturally really as you'll just pass out and have a nice nap and wake up refreshed ........................Now compare that to alcohol...........And would increase tourist numbers too along with creating a new industry supplying it.

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