Christmas Tree

In St Petersburg, Florida, in the United States, a man was placed under arrest at around 11:10 PM on 21 December 2019. The reason was that he was doling out bags of free cannabis. According to police, the man did so “because it was Christmas.”

Florida is well-known for its nice beaches and not for the availability of free cannabis. Photo: Andreia Reis

Florida is well-known for its nice beaches and not for the availability of free cannabis. Photo: Andreia Reis

This took place at 16 Second Street, close to Central Avenue. Police found almost 1.6 oz of the drug on the person of 67-year-old Richard Ellis Spurrier. He was also in possession of a set of digital scales, a glass pipe and a prescription bottle bearing his name. His cane concealed a sword. Spurrier is of no fixed abode, so how he could afford to give out free cannabis is a mystery.

What happened to this gent

Spurrier was released the next day after being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of cannabis with the intent to distribute. The fact that no money changed hands – it was, after all, free cannabis – was not taken into account, except perhaps in that he didn’t have to pay bail.

The legal status of cannabis in Florida

As in most states, cannabis is now legal for medical purposes in Florida. This took effect in 2016. In 2020, the state legislature will vote on a resolution to decriminalise possession of no more than 0.70 oz of the stuff. This is a nice round 20 grammes if you go metric, which people in the United States generally don’t.

In November 2019, the pressure group Floridians against Recreational Marijuana (FARM – geddit?) came into being. Its aim is to campaign against the legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes. A press release in the name of campaign manager Brian Swensen made the plainly untrue case that cannabis legalisation would “increase the burden on taxpayers” by increasing healthcare prices and business costs generally and killing jobs. Sure, it’ll increase healthcare prices, even though cannabis fights all manner of medical conditions. These include acne, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, anorexia nervosa, bipolar disorder, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, constipation, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV, kidney failure, migraines, morning sickness, motion sickness, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, pre-menstrual syndrome, psoriasis and strokes. Its usage leads to less consumption of opiods. Babies exposed to it in the womb have better brains in terms of global motor perception. And there are drastically less drug prescriptions in those states that have legalised it for medical purposes. It’ll increase business costs even though legalising cannabis leads to there being less crime,

Florida Senator Marco Rubio also opposes legalisation. He declared during a campaign event in 2016 that cannabis was as bad as alcohol, despite alcohol being a worse gateway drug. The progression of some cannabis users to harder drugs is purely because, sans legalisation, they have to get it from the same people who deal in worse drugs.

Just how having a J makes you better at computer games

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