Legislators made smart choice on medical marijuana

Sometimes common sense wins the day - even in the Florida Legislature. That’s what’s happened on at least one issue: medical marijuana. The state Senate approved it, as did the state House, and Gov. Rick Scott has said he will sign the bill.

The medical marijuana bill was measured, allowing only a low-THC content plant - the part that gets you high - to be grown in special nurseries with plenty of rules for doctors and patients to prevent abuse. The drug would help many cancer patients and others - young and old - who suffer from devastating seizures and other symptoms from various afflictions.

The bill was passed by many extremely conservative legislators, which surprised some folks. It’s clear that the evidence of the need - as well as the social acceptance - has changed a lot over the years. It’s about time.

A growing number of people have figured out that marijuana is no worse, and actually much safer, than alcohol use. But this bill isn’t about using it for recreational purposes, such as what’s happening in Colorado and Washington states. But that issue’s likely coming to Florida before long.

A few legislators voted against the bill, though. One, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said it “could be the rifle shot that starts an avalanche. I pray it’s not. But because of that risk of setting off that giant avalanche ... that weight and my responsibility is a knot in my stomach that says you started that. I simply cannot pull the trigger,” the News Service of Florida reported.

We respect lawmakers who make a vote of conscience on any matter, but we disagree with Baxley’s thinking. What he’s denying is potentially life-saving treatment for people who are fighting for their lives. The benefits far outweigh any downside and since this isn’t about recreational marijuana, it seems common sense.

In the gallery watching the debate last week were parents with children who have nearly constant severe seizures and would be helped by the passage of this law. One mother said her child had multiple seizures just while the debate continued.

People need to get over their fears and objections about marijuana based on wrong and ignorant notions about the drug. Most of these same people have no problem with alcohol and all the harm it does to millions of people but still deny the benefits that marijuana can bring to many others.

Perhaps this opens a door in the future for a debate about recreational use of pot, but we can deal with that when the time comes. For now it’s about medical marijuana and we support the legislators who took a stand to help a lot of people in desperate need.