TAMPA – There’s been a lot of debate over what some people call medical marijuana.
Some say the drug should legalized. Others believe it’s a solution to alleviate chronic pain.
A bad decision 15 years ago changed Robert Sigl’s life forever. The Plant City man dove head first into a shallow pool, resulting in a spinal cord injury and leaving him a paraplegic.
“I just thought all right if I get to the hospital maybe things will be better. And then they did some surgery to relieve the neck and I was told I was paralyzed. I would never move my arms or neck again,” Sigl said.
He was taking up to five medications a day. But he says the pain was still too much. It got so bad, Sigl turned to marijuana for help.
“Marijuana relaxes me like nothing else, if I were to smoke it. And it helps with neurological pains and muscle spasms,” Sigl said.
He was smoking marijuana for 10 years, and says it helped him live a better life. But five years ago he was forced to quit in fear if being arrested.
Florida law prohibits the use of marijuana. Some see it as a gateway drug.
“There’s absolutely no evidence to that whatsoever,” Kim Russell said.
The Orlando resident started her own political committee, People United for Medical Marijuana. She believes some Florida lawmakers are open to legalizing the drug.
“That they would absolutely love to see this type of legislation put through if they had voter support. They don’t believe they would have voter support,” Russell said.
So her goal is to have 700,000 people sign a petition to get the proposed constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot.
Right now, 13 states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana. 9 others are proposing legislation.
Russell says her biggest obstacle will be educating the public.
“It’s not as bad as everyone things it is. And there are medicinal qualities to it,” Russell said.
By – Alcides Segui