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March 6, 2014

HamCo drug coalition joins forces with sheriffs association in the fight against marijuana legalization

Jasper — At the Feb. 18 meeting of the Hamilton County Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coalition (Coalition), Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeramie Cheshire, who serves on the Drug Task Force, addressed the issue of medical marijuana, which will be on the ballot this coming November for Florida voters.

Cheshire read a letter from Tanesha Williams from the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) that explained their stand on the issue. The FSA, Cheshire said, is joining forces with coalitions across the state and forming an alliance to stop the legalization of medical marijuana by passing on factual information to the citizens of Florida.

Over the next few months, the FSA will host a series of conference calls for all sheriffs and coalition partners in order to open discussions on campaign issues, as well as update coalition members on FSA efforts. More detailed information can be found on FSA’s website at www.flsheriffs.org.

Members of the Coalition were more than eager to be a participant in the initiative with the FSA.

“Our voice needs to be heard throughout the state, as well as the other coalitions in each county,” said Cheshire. “It’s a serious issue. Marijuana is a drug. It causes problems. People drink two beers and smoke a joint and they’re over the limit. It’s like a six pack of beer. It messes with your mind.”

If the medical marijuana measure passes, Cheshire said, all a person has to do is have a medical marijuana note in their pocket and they can tell law enforcement they have a license to have it in their possession. It will make it harder for law enforcement to enforce the law, he added, because then they will have to be inspecting certificates from the doctors who are administering the drug.

Cheshire said, “My thought is, if you have chronic ankle pain, you don’t need to be prescribed marijuana. I’ve seen that,” he added. “I stopped a guy out of California on the interstate and he said, “I have chronic ankle pain and my doctor gave me a certificate for medical marijuana. That’s the reason why I take it.” Come to find out, not only did he have a certificate, but he was trafficking seven pounds of high grade marijuana,” Cheshire explained.  

Cheshire said Florida is setting themselves up for an epidemic.

“Anywhere there’s drugs, there’s money and guns and violence,” he said. “It’s all going to be related.”

Cheshire said he can’t speak highly enough of the Sheriffs Association.

“My opinion is if the Sheriffs Association wasn’t in the state of Florida, then there could be all kinds of  crazy laws passed,” said Cheshire. “If it wasn’t for the Sheriffs Association, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today. They support the state, they support the laws, they back the sheriffs, they back each one of us as deputies, and they’re a good team to have on your side.”

Supervisor of Elections Laura Dees said she already has a thick file of signed petitions from Hamilton County residents who are in favor of the medical marijuana measure that will be on November’s ballot.

“If it’s legalized, you’re going to see DUI’s increase, you’re going to see violence increase and deaths,” said Cheshire. “Not only is it going to be marijuana that they’re getting legally, but then they’re going to mix it with K2 Spice, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other illicit drugs to get that effect.”

“Then we’re going to have the stores that sell this marijuana getting robbed,” said White Springs Police Officer Jason Golub.

“It’s something to think about and I think we need to voice our opinion on it,” said Cheshire. “In California they have vending machines set up. You go down to your dispensary on the corner with cameras all over them and you swipe a card that reads your information. Then you swipe a debit card for payment. It’s like an ATM.”

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