April 20th, better known as 4/20 or “Marijuana Appreciation Day,” is celebrated every year by pot smokers around the world. This year, 4/20 may be special for some Floridians because it could be the last time they have to celebrate the holiday illegally.
On election day this November, Floridians will be voting on Amendment 2 (#yeson2) to legalize medical marijuana in their state. In appreciation of the cannabis plant and to raise awareness of its potential benefits, here is a list of the top five benefits of legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.
1. Alternative Treatment for People with PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced traumatic events, and is commonly associated with, but not exclusive to, returning military veterans who have survived the intense trauma of combat.
Traditional treatments include antidepressants and therapy, however some veterans have said that marijuana and therapy works better for them. Anti-depressants can be ineffective in some, and leave others feeling “zombie like.” However, cannabis seems to bring relief, while eliminating the lethargy that can come from taking anti-depressants.
More research must be done into the connection between cannabis and treating PTSD, but that can only be done in places where medical marijuana is a legal treatment option. If Florida were to legalize medical marijuana, the states’ veterans would have another avenue to treat the condition they picked up defending our country.
2. Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic
America is currently experiencing an epidemic of drug overdoses, according to the Center for Disease Control. Opioid pain relievers are responsible for three-fourths of all prescription drug overdose deaths, and caused more than 16,200 deaths in the United States in 2013, the agency said.
Florida’s drug overdose death rate is below the national average, but it still kills about 12 out of 100,000 people. However, a study published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower annual opioid overdose mortality rate than those states without those laws. Legalizing medical marijuana in Florida would help fight the opioid epidemic.
3. Increased Tax Revenue
Much has been made of the tax revenue generated in states with legal recreational marijuana like Colorado and Washington. However, medical marijuana is legal in almost half of the states in the country and, and although it is not taxed in all of those states, it provides a consistent source of tax revenue for the those that do.
After studying the economic impact of legalizing medical marijuana, Florida lawmakers concluded that medical marijuana will be taxable if Amendment 2 passes. The report examining the potential economic impact also found that if Florida’s medical marijuana system rolls out similar to Colorado’s, Florida could be in line to add up to $67 million annually to state and local budgets.
4. Helps Treat Cancer Patients
It is well known that marijuana helps with the nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. However, recent studies have revealed that cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, may be bale to help fight cancer cells.
Scientists in the California Pacific Medical Center discovered that the cannabinoid CBD prevents the gene that causes cancer from spreading. The scientists initially researched the compound’s effects on breast cancer genes and are optimistic that CBD will work the same way with other forms of cancer.
5. Helps Protect the Brain for Trauma
A new study of traumatic brain injuries in mice has revealed that in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, the cannabinoid 2-AG may reduce the levels of glutamate, a toxic molecule released after injury, reduce inflammation, and increase blood supply to the brain.
More research need to be done, but legalizing medical marijuana will open the door to further research into the effect cannabinoids have on traumatic brain injuries.
Nov. 9 Update: Amendment 2 passed, earning 71 percent of the vote. Read more about this historic movement.