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With Florida’s ‘yes’ on Amendment 2, is recreational next?

After the election last Tuesday, Florida became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana.

With an overwhelming 71 percent landslide (only 60 percent was required to pass the amendment), soon Florida residents will be able to pursue legal medicinal marijuana.

People with debilitating illnesses will be allowed to be prescribed marijuana.

For people living with epilepsy or going through chemotherapy, THC can be a viable solution to seizures, nausea and pain. At this point, the only downside is the opportunity for people to exploit the new law just to get weed.

While some conditions are documented and provable like anxiety or epilepsy, pain isn’t so easily proven. This a problem that we already face with pain medications.

If you walk into a doctor’s office and tell them that you are suffering from a migraine, there is no test to prove the legitimacy of that statement. Of course, migraines are very real, painful and totally debilitating, but there is no test to prove that someone has one or gets them chronically.

The real issue with that is that anyone who wants to smoke weed within legal limits can walk into a doctor’s office or pain clinic and cry “migraine.”

That’s liable to make doctors skeptical of the legitimacy of these claims and could cause people in need of THC to be put through a million different — and probably unnecessary — tests just to prove their dedication to finding a solution.

So, why not just put recreational marijuana on the ballot?

The fact of the matter is that people are going to smoke weed, legally or otherwise, and there’s no use in diluting the legitimacy of patients seeking pain treatment. However, there is no evidence to support that it would pass, at least, not immediately.

Legal medicinal marijuana was on the ballot three times before it passed.

It was up for voting in the 2012 election, the 2014 midterm elections and then again this year when it finally passed.

Votes in favor of legalization have steadily increased over the years, but the lack of voter turnout has been huge factor in its history. In 2014, poll results stated that 88 percent of Florida voters were in favor of Amendment 2, but it only won a 57.6 percent majority and failed.

In a midterm election, a recreational marijuana amendment probably wouldn’t pass. Voter turnout is already low, and during midterm elections, it’s even lower. Even those of us that have no interest in using recreational marijuana should take in interest in legalizing it.

Having it legalized and taxed like cigarettes would be a huge economic boost, and having it controlled by the FDA would be safer for smokers than buying it from someone off the street.

For now, though, we’ll have to settle for the medicinal amendment.

Hopefully, this is the first step towards recreational legalization.

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