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Experts Wrong: Marijuana Can Cause Death

By Randall Grantham Community Columnist July 31, 2023

It's good for the flu
Good for asthma, 
Good for tuberculosis, 
Even hemmorhoid thrombosis
Legalize it
Don’t criticize it...
And I will advertise it.
Peter Tosh

UPDATED to 2023 events.

As everybody knows, Florida is set to vote on a proposal that would legalize medical marijuana use if "prescribed" by a doctor.  Groups that are pro and con have been pitching their case in various venues. 
The parties in favor of the amendment cite case after case showing that marijuana use is beneficial for many medical problems, for pain management that avoids the risks posed by prescription pill use and has been shown to be not nearly as troublesome as alcohol use, even in a recreational setting. They also point to the savings in enforcement costs and the loss of tax income that many other states are now enjoying by virtue of the decriminalization of the plant.

Those against the effort say that marijuana is a "gateway drug," the sale of which funds Mexican drug cartels and will corrupt our youth if we don't continue to treat the drug as if it was the scourge of the earth and incarcerate any who would suggest otherwise.

Although burning anything and breathing in the fumes cannot conceivably be good for a person (there are other ways to consume the plant), proponents say that unlike alcohol, pain pills, heroin and any variety of other drugs, licit or illicit, marijuana use has never been shown to cause a single death, 
However, the government has shown that this is not true. Marijuana use and distribution has once again been shown to be deadly right here in the Tampa Bay area.

I recently read in the paper that a person was shot dead by the police because he was selling hydroponic marijuana.  He wasn't supporting foreign drug cartels, as hydroponic marijuana is usually grown locally, or at least within the borders of the US, because sneaking marijuana across the border is easier if it is produced in bulk, dried and compacted into smaller bundles. 
His death, to me, is a result of the unrealistic and draconian marijuana laws that are on the books in the state. 

First a disclaimer. I know nothing about this particular case other than what I have read in the news and what my 30+ years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer teaches me, but here is what I read and how I interpret it: 
The newspaper said- A man in Seminole Heights was selling marijuana. The police had bought marijuana from him on several occasions - No other drugs, like crack, meth or heroin, just hydroponic marijuana. The police got a warrant to search his house and arrest him. The police came to his house in the early evening and, after knocking at the door, announcing their presence and authority, they entered the house, finding one person in the living room of the 800 square foot home who immediately surrendered. They then encountered the decedent who was in his bedroom and pointed a gun at the police before being shot "at least once" by the law enforcement. And, by the way he had a prior criminal record.
Here's my translation- A “friend” of the decedent had gotten busted and, in order to supposedly help themselves, had set this marijuana seller up.

The police had gone to the house on several occasions and purchased locally-grown weed from him without incident. They got a warrant and a military-style assault was launched at a time designed to surprise him.  The knock was simultaneously accompanied by shouts of "POLICE! SEARCH WARRANT! OPEN THE DOOR!" The door was immediately broken open  and perhaps a small explosive device, known as a "flash-bang" was tossed into the living quarters.

The first guy was probably dozing and laid down on the floor while the rest of the SWAT team swarmed the house, burst into the bedroom and startled the suspect who had a gun, apparently legally, in his home for protection.  Shots were fired by the cops ("shot at least once"? He sure as hell didn't die from fear.) and he's as dead as he'll ever be.  Based on my experience he was gunned down within 15 seconds of the initial knock.

Why do you say that, you ask?  In SWAT team raids things don't happen calmly, as they could if an arrest warrant was executed in some sort of reasonable fashion. This was a combat-style raid on a home where a marijuana a dealer lived.  His prior record?  Misdemeanor possession of ...wait for it...marijuana!
But for the cops, this was a "drug bust". "Drug dealers" are dangerous, according to the cops.. We don't arrest them in a reasonable manner because they're drug dealers, cops say.

This could all change. Marijuana is a drug. So is alcohol, tobacco, coffee and on and on.  The reasons we have condemned marijuana use to the level it is, is based on many reasons. Racism, corporate greed, established and entrenched law enforcement groups concerned about their viability and continued funding ...whatever.

Isn't it time for a change? For a rational view of reality? 

As it is, another person is dead.  All because of marijuana. A plant that has been cultivated throughout the ages and has proven benefits, commercially and medically.

Floridians will have a chance to address this issue this Fall.  Whether you want medical marijuana for your family and friends or not, you have duty to vote.  Whether it’s yes or no, just vote. And vote your conscience.

UPDATE: As we all know, Florida legalized Medicinal Marijuana several years ago and, as this is written, Florida may be voting on a Recreational Marijuana initiative.

It also turns out that the search warrant was based on false information from an unreliable informant.

The mother of the young man who was killed in his own bedroom and found to be in possession of 0.2 grams of pot and was gunned down, "riddled with shotgun and pistol bullets" after the body armor-wearing police arrived in a BearCat armored vehicle and tactical trailers filed suit against TPD.

It was just recently settled and while Mom got a little bit of money, the bigger accomplishment for her was that TPD has changed the rules on the use of SWAT teams. Baby steps but steps in the right direction.

(Randall C. Grantham is a fifth generation Floridian and lifelong resident who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz . He can be reached at Copyright 2023 RCG)