On January 30, 2014 the Cape Coral Police arrested Neal Jesse Joiner on charges of marijuana cultivation, possession with intent to sell, and paraphernalia charges. Pot has a growing foot hold in Cape Coral (no pun intended). Fast forward six months after Joiner’s arrest and you find “420 Weed Is Life Legalize It” t-shirts at the Cape Coral “Mango Mania” festival. According to Wikipedia, “420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with [the] cannabis subculture or simply cannabis itself.”
As pot growing becomes the cash crop in Florida on January 1, 2015 perhaps it will displace mangoes at the Cape Coral festival. Will the 2015 festival be renamed the Cape Coral Cannabis Culture Festival or “Weed Mania” for short?
Dr. Jessica Spencer, Director of VoteNoOn2.org, sent us a photo taken by Lori from North Port (right) from this years Cape Coral Mango Mania festival. Lori writes, “…and so it begins. This is the first time I have seen this at a family festival (and not some place like Key West). This was taken in Cape Coral at the Mango Festival. I go every year with my daughter. The shirt up front says ‘legalize it’ on the bottom and they were playing suggestive music. Was extremely disappointed to see this in a family oriented environment…and then had to reiterate to my daughter why it was wrong. It was one of two booths offering this stuff. I know this is just the beginning and our kids will be bombarded with this stuff.”
Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) released its second report titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact in August. The RMHIDTA collects and reports comparative data in Colorado on: Impaired driving, youth marijuana use, adult marijuana use, emergency room admissions, marijuana-related exposure cases and diversion of Colorado marijuana outside the state.
Colorado legalized “medical” marijuana in 2009 and marijuana for recreational use in 2013. Florida legalized “medical” marijuana in 2014.
The following are some of the findings from each category in which RMHIDTA collects data:
- Traffic fatalities involving operators testing positive for marijuana have increased 100 percent from 2007 to 2012.
- The majority of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone.
- Toxicology reports with positive marijuana results for driving under the influence have increased 16 percent from 2011 to 2013.
- In 2012, 10.47 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 4th in the nation, was 39 percent higher than the national average.
- Drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008/2009 through 2012/2013. The vast majority were for marijuana violations.
- In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students (ages 18 – 25 years) were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 3rd in the nation, was 42 percent higher than the national average.
- In 2012, 7.63 percent of adults ages 26 and over were considered current marijuana users compared to 5.05 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 7th in the nation, was 51 percent higher than the national average.
- In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.
- From 2011 through 2013, there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.
- Hospitalizations related to marijuana have increased 82 percent from 2008 to 2013.
- In 2012, the City of Denver rate for marijuana-related emergency visits was 45 percent higher than the rate in Colorado.
Perhaps the most damning finding of the report is that marijuana-related exposures for children ages 0 to 5 on average have increased 268 percent from 2006–2009 to 2010-2013.
It is currently illegal to cultivate marijuana for recreational use in Florida. If marijuana Amendment 2 passes in November all of that will change, as it did in Colorado.
What will Florida be like in five years? Will the sunshine state go to pot?