Medical Marijuana Debate Feb. 24 at UT Features National Speakers

Published: Feb 13, 2014
The legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Florida will be hotly debated at The University of Tampa on Monday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Martinez Athletics Center.

Local attorney John Morgan, and Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), will argue in favor of the measure. Arguing against the ballot measure will be Eric Voth, M.D., chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, and Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida.

The debate is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

The question of medical marijuana will be considered by Florida voters in the form of a ballot initiative to be included on the November 2014 ballot.

This is the second annual debate on legalization of medical marijuana hosted by DisJointed, a UT student group that focuses on education of students about the effects of marijuana.

Megan Ristick, a UT senior public health major and founder of DisJointed, said the debate fits DisJointed’s role to help students understand the facts about marijuana, and how the upcoming vote will impact the state of Florida.

“There are many aspects that we want to help students understand, so they feel confident to go out and make the healthiest choices for themselves,” Ristick said.

According to David Krahl, assistant professor of criminology at UT and a co-organizer of the event, this particular ballot question is significant since (1) upwards of 70 percent of registered voters in the state approve of the use of medical marijuana with support across the breadth of the entire political spectrum, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll; (2) Florida is pivotal in national elections as a "battleground" state; and (3) the push-back against this initiative is significant on the part of those who would like to see this particular ballot initiative defeated in the upcoming election.

“This event truly has national implications because of Florida's traditional and ongoing rejection of the use of marijuana for medical purposes,” Krahl said. “As a result, the outcome of the debate and the outcome of the voter referendum will also have national implications relative to other states who may seek to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.”

The debate is sponsored by DisJointed, Live Well UT, a student organization whose mission is to provide a forum for wellness initiatives to increase healthy behaviors for the UT community, and CEDARS, the Coalition for Enhanced Drug and Alcohol Resources and Study. CEDARS focuses on community outreach, prevention and advocacy, as well as, science-based research and knowledge development.

For more information regarding this debate, contact Charlotte Petonic, wellness coordinator, at cpetonic@ut.edu or (813) 258-7369.