MANATEE -- The Florida Police Chiefs Association is trying to decrease widespread support in Florida for medical marijuana, calling the effort a potentially dangerous threat to families and communities.
"Regardless of any state laws, recreational marijuana use is still illegal on the federal level because of its high potential for abuse, and the fact that there is no currently accepted national standard for use as a medical treatment," said Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow, president of the FPCA. "It's important to understand that expanding the use of mar
ijuana for medical purposes is not a safer way to use the drug."
Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said he can't comment on whether he is personally for or against medical marijuana, but he wants voters to be informed. He called the ballot language of Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana, "concerning."
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"This amendment means marijuana for everybody," he said.
Many detractors argue current language would mean no age restriction on marijuana users and that the language is overly broad, allowing prescriptions of cannabis for anyone with a minor medical issue.
The release issued Thursday by the FPCA details several crime statistics from Colorado, where they said the legalization of marijuana has led to an increase in non-drug-related crime and car accidents.
The FPCA said other states that have established medical dispensaries for marijuana have seen those areas turn into magnets for crime. According to Denver's Department of Safety, the city recorded 7,000 reported crimes within 1,000 feet of dispensaries in the first six months of both 2012 and 2013.
The department also reported that total crime in the first six months of 2014 increased nearly 7 percent compared with the first six months of 2013, from 22,048 crimes to 23,532. Recreational marijuana was officially legal in Colorado as of January.
Radzilowski said he couldn't say that he has personally noticed a correlation between non-drug-related crime and marijuana use in Bradenton, but the possibility is cause for concern.
"It's mind boggling to me why people would want to legalize another mind-altering drug," he said.
The release also talked about a correlation between marijuana use and traffic accidents, saying the Colorado Department of Highway Safety reported that at least 183 people were killed by drivers who tested positive for cannabis between 2006 and 2010, after Colorado legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The Colorado Department of Highway Safety reported 1,614 total fatalities from traffic accidents during that period.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 88 percent of Floridians support the idea of legalizing medical marijuana, and only 10 percent oppose it.