The Ocala Star-Banner on legalizing marijuana in Florida:

While Florida voters needed two tries to pass medical marijuana, much of the country is moving to legalize recreational pot.

It was approved convincingly this election with more than 71 percent of the vote. Three other states also passed medical marijuana on Nov. 8, meaning medical marijuana has now been legalized in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

When more than half the states have legalized medical marijuana, the country has passed a tipping point on the issue. The latest Gallup poll found support for full marijuana legalization has reached an all-time high of 60 percent, yet the federal government still lags behind public opinion.

The Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana among Schedule 1 substances such as heroin and LSD, which have been determined to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. The listing is an insult to patients who have found marijuana to be an effective treatment for chronic pain, nausea and other conditions that stem from debilitating diseases — and one without the dangers of addictive painkillers.

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Education institutions such as the University of Florida are also limited in the research they can do on medical marijuana without risking federal funding. This creates a Catch 22 in which the federal government claims not enough research has been done on medical marijuana’s effectiveness without fully allowing that research to be done.

Worse yet, marijuana arrests continue to ruin people’s lives. A conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana can cause the loss of a driver’s license in Florida and a criminal record, consequences that might cost someone a job or financial aid for college.

Much like the conflicting marijuana laws across the country, Florida now has a mishmash of municipalities moving toward decriminalization and

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