TALLAHASSEE — Marijuana was sold legally in Florida for the first time this week since it was outlawed by the federal government in 1937.
In a staid Tallahassee storefront more akin to a doctor’s office than a head shop, Dallas Nagy, a Tampa-area native with chronic seizures and muscle spasms, plunked down $60 for a non-euphoric strain of marijuana on Tuesday.
“I thank you for the hope of getting better,” Nagy said at the opening of Trulieve, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state.
The milestone, hailed by legalization activists, some doctors, owners of nascent pot nurseries and the parents of children with debilitating ailments, is really just the beginning of Florida’s battle over marijuana laws.
Groups on both sides of the medical marijuana debate are battling it out over an amendment on the November ballot that would give access to marijuana with higher levels of THC — the chemical that creates a user’s “high” — for a wider range of illnesses.
Anti-drug activists and law enforcement say the amendment would lead to de facto legalization of the drug. Amendment 2, as it will appear on the ballot, makes patients with “debilitating medical conditions” eligible – a vague term ripe for abuse, they say.
“It’s unlimited, so if you have headaches a doctor could say marijuana could alleviate your headache,” said Christina Johnson, spokeswoman for Drug Free Florida, a group fighting the amendment.
Along with “debilitating conditions,” the amendment states that patients with glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis would be eligible for medical marijuana.
The amendment doesn’t specify in what form the drug could be sold.
The fight over Amendment 2 is already drawing big bucks on both sides.
Drug Free Florida got a boost this week