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Fla. Lawmakers Look to Medical Marijuana to Lessen Budget Shortfall

Whether you grow it, roll it or smoke it, get caught with marijuana and you'll do time for it.

But under a new democratic bill, come November 2012 voters could choose to give people with a "debilitating medical condition" a pass. The legislation mirrors California's medical marijuana law, where all it takes to buy a legal bag of pot is a recommendation from a doctor.

That's a bad idea if you ask Florida State senior Jack Henmy who tells us he'd vote no.

"It's just like alcohol, I guess, in a sense, just like any other drug, any other prescription drug, but see, the thing is, I guess I could see that, but the pain is still going to be there. The issue that's causing the pain is still going to be there, but you're just easing their pain."

No matter your philosophy, there's no question medical marijuana could mean big money. In California, pot farms and dispensaries have become a $2 billion-a-year industry, generating $100 million in taxes. Florida could rake in millions, as well.

"This is a smoking gun issue at the ballot box."

Beyond that, democratic consultant Gary Yordon sees a big benefit for his party. Like gay marriage bans for republicans, medical marijuana could help candidates up and down the ballot.

"It will generate, I think, an increase in voters on the democratic side, because there are some folks who will show up simply based on the progressive nature of that issue."

But with the Capitol controlled by republicans, that may be the biggest reason the bill may not even get a hearing.

The other argument from the GOP? Marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead even medical patients down a destructive path. They say that's why the law can't be loosened.

Right now, 16 states have legalized medical marijuana but only seven allow it to be sold within their borders.


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