Mitch Perry Report 6.27.14: Medical marijuana backlash builds nationally

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Blame if you like the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, but the effectiveness of medical marijuana has never been more under scrutiny than right now, just months before Florida attempts to become the 23rd state in the union to legalize it.

If you don't think so, check out this story in today's New York Times, which states in its opening paragraph that "there is no rigorous scientific evidence that marijuana effectively treats the symptoms of many of the illnesses for which states have authorized its use," adding "instead, experts say, lawmakers and the authors of public referendums have acted largely on the basis of animal studies and heart-wrenching anecdotes. The results have sometimes confounded doctors and researchers."

You wanna bet that the foes of Amendment 2 will be touting this article in television ads later this year?

And then you pick up today's Tampa Tribune op-ed section, which contains an opinion piece by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus entitled, "The myths of smoking pot." That column contains few thoughts from Marcus, as she gives the column essentially over to Nora Volkow with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If it's "balance" you're looking for from Volkow, you shouldn't read it. But it is an opinion and not a news column.

Add that to Maureen Dowd's recent bad trip in Colorado, after she ingested a caramel chocolate-flavored candy bar, and you've got what Bernard Goldberg would call the "liberal media" coming down harder on pot than we've seen in decades, perhaps.

But it should be noted that there's somewhat of a generation gap here — the liberal columnists are of an older breed who may or may not have ever done anything much stronger than a good Chardonnay, though the Times story today may be harder to refute. The upshot is that the Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released earlier this week has Amendment 2 losing by only getting 58 percent of the vote. That poll skewed conservative, however (it also gave Rick Scott his largest lead of any poll this year), but the point is clear. The medical marijuana initiative in Florida is no gimme, despite those astronomical Quinnipiac polls from earlier this year which had the measure at 80 percent approval.

In other news…

Hillsborough County's relatively new Public Transportation Commission executive director, Kyle Cockream, has been hoping that some local law enforcement agencies would assist his own agents in fining UberX and Lyft drivers roaming the streets of the county without being certified by the PTC, but Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he isn't interested in having his police force help out.

For the third straight summer, the folks with Emerge Tampa Bay held an event talking about transportation opportunities in the region. CL's Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy reports.

And the Tampa neighborhoods of V.M. Ybor and Tampa Heights are getting the opportunity to plant a whole lot of trees, courtesy of a grant the city won.

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