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Sun Times Feature Story

Marijuana Issue Becomes A Very Heated Topic

By Larry Blustein

   One of the hottest issues right now throughout the country is the legalization of cannabis - for medicinal purposes. 

   In the state of Florida, the topic is at the point where voters, in November, will decide on Amendment 2, a proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

   People United for Medical Marijuana, the group that spearheaded the effort to get the proposal on the ballot, gathered enough signatures statewide in late January to get the initiative onto the November ballot, when 60 percent of voters must approve for it to pass.

   Backers of a ballot initiative that would legalize a wider use of medical marijuana in Florida are working to address some voters’ concerns before the November election about how the drug would be regulated.

   A newly formed group called Florida For Care is planning to draft proposed rules for how medical marijuana will be managed if voters approve a constitutional amendment making it legal in the state.

   Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law last month that legalized but strictly limits the distribution of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana believed to reduce epileptic seizures.

   November's referendum is a broader proposal that would allow physicians to recommend the regular form of marijuana to people with debilitating ailments.

   Growing up in south Florida, Ata Gonzalez headed to California over a decade ago, knowing that the state of Florida and those who would one day legalize cannabis would never make the right decision. He understood how many channels were needed to go through.

   His introduction to cannabis - in every form - opened his eyes to how vital it is in our society. That is why he has poured his entire life into knowing everything about cannabis.

   After years of watching, learning and traveling, Gonzalez has been an expert in every phase of cannabis. Today, the CEO of GFarmaLabs, is a cultivator and distributor of marijuana-based products, and 2 time winner of the High Times Cannabis Cup for edibles. 

   Recently, he was one of many guest speakers at the Florida Marijuana Conference, which was held at the Emerald Hills Country Club. It was an event that attracted over 200 people who wanted to ask questions and see for themselves what this was all about.

   The conferences are designed to answer questions about growing, prescribing, and distributing Medical Marijuana.

   “We had legal experts, medical experts, dispensary operators, growers and people who were there to impart their knowledge,” said Robert Platshorn the organizer of the Hollywood event.

   For Gonzalez, who started G FarmaLabs to apply science and global resources to improve health and well-being at the adult stage of life, has continued to strive to provide access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and related health care services to the people who need them. In adult markets like Washington and Colorado, they offer their adult lifestyle brands which promote good health and a sense of enjoyment. 

  "When I left this area for California, there was no way that I ever envisioned myself returning to be in a position to speak on this subject," Gonzalez explained. "I felt that I had so much to share with people about how cannabis is so overlooked and really misunderstood."

   What Gonzalez did was talk about his business and practices as well as the importance of the medical marijuana vote coming up. His experiences in the industry provided so many with the answers needed to form their opinions.

   He also talked about the medicinal properties of cannabis becoming part of Western medicine in the mid-19th century when strains from Egypt and India were imported by the French and British, respectively. 

    Between 1840 and 1940, English, Irish, French and then North American physicians and pharmacists testified to the usefulness of various cannabis preparations for pain relief and other conditions including malaria, rheumatism, migraine headaches, gout and glaucoma. Cannabis was in the Canadian pharmacopeia until it was added to a list of restricted drugs in 1923 and its possession, cultivation and distribution became illegal.

   "Its therapeutic potential has been recognized since ancient times—for at least 4,000 years," Gonzalez explained. "In Egypt, there is evidence that cannabis has been used in medicine since the days of the pharaohs. In China, cannabis was used as a surgical anesthetic in the second century C.E. All around the ancient world, from Babylonia to Israel to Rome, cannabis has been used as a medicine."

   Pointing to the fact that doctors in this country have spent countless years on researching prescription medicines, they have fallen short when it comes to taking the time to see what the benefits of cannabis really are.

   Hollywood resident Margo Stein is an advocate of the legalization of marijuana. A breast cancer patient who found it tough to eat during chemotherapy, she was introduced to the benefits of cannabis by here sister. While she was skeptical about smoking it because it was illegal, the results outweighed the risks involved.

   "Nobody ever tells you to put down that glass of whisky or vodka, which can tear up your liver," Stein said. "Adult choices have to be made, and when my appetite spiked and the side effects from the chemo subsided, I was sold."

   Stein is not alone. making choices to use cannabis - in any form - is an adult decision. Just like underage children drink alcohol now, you cannot take something that is proven to work away from adults who have the right to make their own choices.

   "I am generally old school," Stein pointed out. "But when it came to my own body, I told my kids the same thing I spoke with them about alcohol. You do not use this until you are an adult and can clearly make your own decisions."

   If passed this November, the amendment would allow for a physician to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient at his or her discretion. However, neither qualified patients (nor their designated caregivers) would be permitted to cultivate cannabis. Rather, the proposal authorizes the state Department of Health to determine rules within six-months following the act’s passage for the registration of ‘Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers’ (dispensaries), which would be authorized to cultivate, process, and sell medicinal cannabis and other related products. If regulators do not begin registering these facilities within this time frame, “any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties,” the measure states. 

    No matter what side of this fence you sit on, you have to admit that adults do have the right to make their own decisions - just like you and I. Just keep that in mind when your vote will count and make a major difference to so many!

   Marijuana Business Seminar - August 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Signature Grand, Davie - 6900 W State Road 84 - Davie, FL 33317


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