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Legal marijuana presents legal difficulties

The topic of legalization of marijuana for medical, and even recreational, purposes has been an increasingly important one in recent years as more and more states take sides on the issues. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently 23 states and the District of Columbia, which allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. As of now, Florida is not one of them, though it may soon be.

This November, Florida voters will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on an amendment which will legalize marijuana for medical use. Amendment 2 will specifically be asking voters whether they agree with the legalization of marijuana for use in treating "debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician." The Amendment would permit strains of marijuana higher in THC than what is present in the so-called Charlotte's Web strain of cannabis, which is going to become legal on the first day of 2015. This particular strain is low in THC and high in the compound which has been shown to treat seizures effectively.

Reasons for opposition to the ballot initiative are moral, social and political. One might also mention the potential legal ramifications of legalizing marijuana. Even if the drug is legalized for medical use at the state level, it is still illegal at the federal level, and there is the possibility of federal prosecution. While Attorney General Eric Holder has said that those who use marijuana in accordance with state law will not be targeted, it is still possible.

Should Amendment 2 result in support for medical marijuana and legislation follow, this issue will become an important one in the coming years. Those who become part of the medical marijuana industry will need to be sure they fully understand how to be in compliance with the law, and will need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney should they be targeted by prosecutors for drug crimes related to marijuana.

Source: News4Jax, "Is medical marijuana in Florida's future?," Vic Micolucci, July 14, 2014.Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott signs 'Charlotte's Web' medical marijuana bill," Tia Mitchell & Mary Ellen Klas, June 16, 2014.

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