Thursday, October 21, 2021

Time For a Serious Conversation and Action

More Straight Talk

In our nation, as well as within the state of Florida and its individual counties, a major debate has been raging for some time now regarding the issue of medical marijuana usage. The issue sometimes is blurred as the discussions overlap between medical marijuana and the more controversial recreational use of the product.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. This is the element that produces a “high.” It is not found in medical marijuana. Cannabidiol, or CBD, can be found in medical marijuana at a much higher content and provides none of the psychoactive effects.

Today, I only wish to deal with the usage of medical marijuana and not the more complicated usage on the recreational side of the issue. In 2016, one person every 50 minutes is killed in motor vehicle related accidents due to alcohol use. That accounts to close to 10,500 lives lost yearly and already provides first responders and law enforcement a terrible challenge to deal with.

As many of you know, my dad passed away shortly after his 45th birthday. He, like my mom, died of cancer and suffered during a 9-month period prior to his death. Yes, the outcome of his battle had already been determined during the fall of 1965, but his suffering could have been greatly alleviated had the benefits of some of the derivatives of the plant we know as marijuana might have been applied. That technology and knowledge of the positive natures of the plant were not known back then, unfortunately.

My thoughts, 51 years later, drift to a young man or woman of high school age who suffers a serious injury in sports or a vehicular accident. Many are given narcotics, which may in fact create a dependency, which causes them to be addicted to that product and create a lifelong enslavement. That could be possibly avoided had the use of these new products been available. This story is applicable to all age groups, regardless of injury or illness. Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is a plague on our society, as it has affected too many of our citizens and has caused a spike in crime rates. This may be addressed by use of these alternative products and help us defeat this terrible pestilence on our society.

In 2016 residents of the state of Florida voted overwhelmingly to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Their support of the initiative was indicative of the growing recognition of its potential for good in a number of afflictions. Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer/nausea, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, Hepatitis C, Multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome and severe pain.

Now, I am not so foolish to think that this is a silver bullet that will slay any of these ailments. However, now that it can be legally utilized for medical purposes within the state of Florida, shouldn’t residents and their physicians be given the option of being able to utilize it throughout all the counties in the state and not require a resident to travel unnecessary distances to obtain that medication?

As I look at the issues I see it split into three distinct groups:

  • First is a large group whose fear from lack of understanding of the potential for good, coupled with a lack of knowledge. This has been created by a misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the utilization of medical marijuana and its byproducts, whether it is intentional or unintentional.
  • The second group has an angry segment, which finds the foot dragging on establishing standard protocols and procedures for the dispensing of these products. That passion sometimes clouds their message and feeds some of the misrepresentation of facts, resulting in the damage to their cause.
  • The third is stuck in the middle. They are the children, men and women, who might benefit from those products derived from medical marijuana. Folks with so many of the ailments I’ve mentioned earlier. Your spouse, child, relatives and neighbors who continue to suffer when some relief may be available o them.

In my opinion, it is time that we recognize the good that can be done, while recalling the objections and unfounded rumors that surrounded medications such as penicillin, polio vaccines and many others when they were first introduced. All of these went on to save the lives and improve the quality of life for millions around the world.

It is time that reasonable men and women on both sides of this issue stow the rhetoric and hate speech, while moving on to putting a plan in place to follow through on the wishes of the Florida electorate and think about putting the quality of life first, for so many of our residents.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at

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