LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Will medical marijuana be legalized in the state of Florida? That real question was the focus of real debate at Palm Beach State College Wednesday night.
Proponents say marijuana is a safe therapeutic substance. Opponents say it is a drug that causes serious mental and physical problems.
Aaron Houston, a marijuana legalization lobbyist, argued in favor. "People shouldn't go to jail for marijuana," said Houston, a drug policy expert who helped craft current federal medical marijuana guidelines.
Kevin Sabet, Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), argued against. "Is legalization of medical marijuana the right thing to do?," he asked. Sabet served as a drug policy advisor in three presidential administrations.
In the audience at Palm Beach State College were hundreds of people on both sides of the issue.
"I don't use it because I have no need for it," said John Tracey of Lake Worth. Tracey was there obtaining signatures to get the issue of medical marijuana on Florida's 2014 ballot. He quickly found out it was against policy to solicit signatures on campus without permission. "Before they kicked us out, we got about 10 or 20 different petitions here tonight," he said.
"We should tax and regulate it, take it out of the control of criminals, put into the hands of our government," said Houston.
"Anybody for any reason - for a minor backache or a headache - can get a joint under the guise of medicine," argued Sabet.
The debate was sponsored by the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition.