Sheriff's Message History

Medical Marijuana: How Will This Affect You?

May 22, 2014

Many advocates for legalization of medical marijuana are pointing to the revenues earned through taxation, but forget to address the social costs associated with legalization.  Not only is there no medical use for smoked marijuana, smoking three marijuana cigarettes is equivalent to smoking an entire pack of tobacco cigarettes.  It affects your lungs, lowers your immune system, raises your heart rate, and has been shown to affect mental health.  It is very addictive and the medical, addiction treatment, monitoring, and enforcement costs need to be factored in.

Legalization of marijuana has been compared to alcohol and tobacco.  Well, there are still black markets associated with those products that are legal and the revenues gained do not outweigh the social costs.  Revenues from alcohol are estimated at $14 billion and tobacco $25 billion.  The costs associated with the use of these substances are $185 billion and $200 billion respectively.  The costs for marijuana will be more.

In addition employers need to be concerned.  Think about the costs in safety, absenteeism, turnover rates, tardiness, productivity, and lawsuits.  Employees who tested positive for marijuana have 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75 times more absentee rates.  The employer would be the responsible party in any mishaps by their employee.  Do you really want this in your business?

States that have legalized medical marijuana have seen dramatic increases in drugged driving cases, crashes and fatalities.  So it has indirectly caused injury and death not just to the user, but innocent people.  As for deaths resulting directly from marijuana, in the February addition of Forensic Science International, they reported the death of two young men, ages 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after smoking marijuana.  So they are out there, don't think it is a harmless substance.

As for crime, dispensaries are a cash business.  Because possession or sale of marijuana is still a violation of federal law, the dispensaries will not be able to use credit cards or make deposits of their revenue into banks that are federally controlled.  Wherever you have a cash-only business, you will likely have an increase in crime.  Dispensaries in Denver have reported a 50% increase in burglaries and robberies.  Some have very violent stories.

In Charlotte County we have seen an overall decrease in crime of 30.8% over the last 6 years.  We want to attract people to our county and State.  We want to be known for our sunshine, beaches and Mickey Mouse.  This won't happen with dispensaries on every corner.  If you don't believe me, check out weedmaps.com.  Is this really worth it?

As your Sheriff, I have the duty to try and keep you as safe as possible even if that means protecting us from ourselves.  The introduction of marijuana into our community is simply not the right thing to do.

Before you cast your vote on the medical marijuana issue, make sure you have done your homework, checked the the facts and know exactly what legalizing marijuana for medical use will do to the State of Florida and your community.

Thank you,

Sheriff Bill Prummell

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