South Miami Supports Medical Marijuana

On Monday night, the South Miami city commission took a giant leap forward in the pro-marijuana debate. Commissioners voted 3-1 to push the Florida Legislature and the federal government to authorize the medicinal use of marijuana making South Miami the first city in the state to realize the healing power of Mary Jane.

The city commission's vote comes as marijuana supporters are conducting two separate petition drives to decriminalize marijuana in Florida. We've made no secret about our pot advocacy, so it is good to see elected officials act rationally for once.

In Miami Beach, Sensible Florida is collecting signatures for a ballot question asking voters to allow police to issue citations instead of sending people to jail for holding 20 grams or less of pot. And People United For Medical Marijuana is on a mission to collect 700,000 signatures before February 2012 to put the medical marijuana question before voters.

Beth Schwartz, a South Miami resident for the past 35 years, was in favor of the city commission's measure, which is more ceremonial than anything else. Schwartz told Banana Republican that she knows first hand the medical benefits of marijuana when her mother was battling cancer. "Her doctor suggested she use marijuana to help relieve the affects of chemotherapy and give her an appetite," Schwartz says. "I also used it after a near death experience."

A few years ago, she says, she was severely injured swimming in the ocean off the Bahamas during a vacation when she fell overboard off a yacht in the Bahamas she was working on. "I was crushed by a wave, taken out to sea and bashed against some rocks," Schwartz recalls. "When I got out of the hospital, the prescription pills weren't working so a friend gave me a marijuana cigarette. My pain was reduced immensely."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.