Marco Rubio walks a thin line with medical marijuana support

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On the subject of marijuana, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio certainly is treading a thin line.

For example, in an interview with Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times, Rubio says he supports medical marijuana, but only the kind that does not get users high, approved this year by the Florida Legislature..

“If there are medicinal uses of marijuana that don’t have the elements that are mind-altering or create the high, but do alleviate whatever condition it may be they are trying to alleviate,” he said. “That is something I would be open to.”

The Florida Republican made the comments as part of a wide-ranging discussion with reporters, making it clear he supports only the euphoric strains of marijuana such as “Charlotte’s Web.”

To Rubio, Florida’s constitutional Amendment 2 — that asks voters in November to approve the wider use of medical marijuana – is a “ruse” that will lead to giving pot to people with questionable “medical needs.”

“You’ve seen how this has been abused in many parts of this country,” he said. “It’s the reality that there are states now that you go in and can have a doctor write you a prescription for something that you are really just using for purposes of acquiring legally a recreational drug.”

When asked about the ballot initiative in January, Rubio replied, “You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medicinal marijuana provides relief for the thing they are suffering. So I’d like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it. I have qualms about that proposal, I really do, but I probably need to learn more about it.

“The broader issue of whether we should be legalizing it is something I’m pretty firm about,” he added. “I don’t think legalizing marijuana or even decriminalizing it is the right decision for our country.”

Rubio’s opinion happens to be in the minority for medical marijuana in Florida, Leary writes.

Recent polling shows 88 percent of Florida voters now support using marijuana to treat a number of ailments, a number up from 82 percent support reported by Quinnipiac in November. In addition, nearly 55 percent of Floridians are for legalizing marijuana for recreational use, also up 7 percent from November.

Rubio’s Senate colleague, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, supports Amendment 2.

“Just listen to the personal testimonies of people that nothing will help them as they are dying and marijuana gives them comfort and relieves the pain,” Nelson recently told the Tampa Bay Times.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.