Sarasota, Florida- Before 400 members of the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club Wednesday, Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight and Attorney John Morgan passionately defended their views on legalizing Medicinal Marijuana.
"This amendment is vague and broad," Sheriff Knight told the group, in opposition of legal prescription pot.
"The pills pharmaceutical companies made up don't work; medical marijuana does," exclaimed Morgan, a well-known supporter of the initiative.
For Morgan it's personal. His brother Tim is a quadriplegic.
"I'm doing it because I've watched it work. It works for my brother, Tim," said Morgan.
Despite Sheriff Knight losing a sister to breast cancer, Knight said his reasons for opposing medicinal marijuana are neither moral, nor political, but stem from his role as a crime fighter.
"Why risk our state? Why risk our crime rate- risk our quality of life?" Knight asked.
Sheriff Knight used a map of Anaheim, CA- similar in size to Sarasota- to make his case. According, to Knight, 43 marijuana dispensaries have opened in Anaheim, and some have been robbed.
But Morgan shot down the sheriff's evidence.
"It's a scare tactic by well intended people to say 'we'll have these on every corner'," said Morgan. He assured the group, "We can only have as many dispensaries as the State of Florida allows us to have."
Morgan leads the fight to legalize medicinal marijuana, and some say it's a political campaign tactic to get firm member Charlie Crist elected as Governor.
"I've taken a huge risk here. First of all, I had to get a million, plus signatures. Then, I had to get them in a timely fashion; then I had to get them through the Supreme Court," said Morgan of his process to get the initiative on Florida's November ballot. "If I wanted to help Charlie Crist, I would have given him $4 million and said 'Go get 'em, Charlie'."
Knight says he's simply not convinced legalizing medicinal marijuana is good for Florida.
"If anyone can guarantee us it will not affect our community as a whole- that the crime rate won't go up- I say I'd be for it, but nobody can say that," said Knight."We've seen in states who have done it, that crime has followed."
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