Should Medical Marijuana Be Legal in Florida?

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Panama City resident Richard Ferrick is a stage three lung cancer survivor.

"I was diagnosed in November 2007," said Ferrick.

Now in remission, he reflected on the agonizing battle he said he went through to beat the disease.

"It was bad, I lost all my hair. I was very nauseous and the medicines I had to take I took in mass quantities in order to fall asleep so I wouldn't be heaving nonstop from the chemo," said Ferrick.

Experiencing so much pain, he said he wished there would've been other medicinal alternatives like marijuana.

"For me if I reached that bridge as a conscious decision between my family and myself, if we needed to take that route I probably would've taken it without a doubt," said Ferrick.

Panama City neurologist Hoda Elzaqwahry described the chemical effects the drug has on your brain.

"It can help elevate mood, also known as euphoria. There are also other things that are beneficial such as increasing appetite and modulating pain within the spinal cord," said Dr. Elzawahry.

But along with those health benefits, she said, come dangerous side effects.

"Illegal marijuana may be laced with other substances. It also goes without saying that inhalation of illegal marijuana is bad for the respiratory system and the lungs," said Elzawahry.

And most important, it's still illegal in Florida. Authorities call marijuana a gateway drug. They said it opens the door for abuse of other narcotics and increases crime.

But for those who've experienced actual illnesses and the pain that comes along with them, they said because pot is such a taboo topic, it's causing more suffering the longer it stays illegal.

"A lot of people are always talking about 'Is it going to be one of those nights? Are we going to be throwing up all night?' There's nothing left to throw up. They have to go to the hospital and get fluids. If marijuana can help that, let it happen," said Ferrick.

There is a pure form of THC in pill form called Marinol. Doctors can prescribe it in Florida right now. Medical experts said the only difference between it and marijuana is marinol doesn't provide the euphoric high that pot does.

More than a dozen states allow medicinal marijuana right now. For the time being, Florida still isn't one of them.

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