Don't get confused: Medical use is still not allowed in Florida

3357331835 Every one knows what happens to those who abuse weed, and there are plenty of popular jokes to reference the damage.

Do you know the difference between a drunk and a stoner behind the wheel? It is that the drunk will drive through the stop sign. The pothead waits for it to turn green.

Or have you ever heard the one about the pothead who studied for five days for a urine test?

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement doesn't want that to happen to you. They are afraid that legalizing it for medical purposes would send the wrong message to young people and that the move had to do more with profit than with compassion.

There may be more profits than compassion in this market. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws claims that in Florida it's production value is second to oranges and above of sugarcane and grapefruit.

On a mission in Florida, Kim Russell, the founder of People United For Medical Marijuana, is using online social networks to target college students. He hopes to collect 676,811 signatures from registered voters for a petition the Florida Division of Elections already approved. He is on Twitter.

In the meantime punishment remains severe: Posession of 20 grams or less of marijuana can still lead to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Selling or growing pot within 1,000 feet of a school, college, public park, public housing, daycare center, or church is still punishable by up to 15 years in prison and carrries a fine of $10,000.

Here is the memo from the U.S. Department of Justice authorizing the medical use of marijuana in state's where it is allowed (AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA).

The real Charlie Free

Hazen You may have read Sunday's story about Jack Hazen (left), a man who robbed a Pompano Beach 7-Eleven back in 1975, escaped from prison, then lived 32 years on the lam under the name Charles Danny Free until being caught again in 2008.

 He's being released today from Dade Correctional Institution in Florida City and will be paroled to Panama City, where he'll have a job and his wife and grown daughters will take care of him.

A colleague who read my story raised a good question: Has anyone ever tracked down the *real* Charles Danny Free, the man whose ID Hazen lifted in order to start his second life? 

A few keystrokes later, I found Charles Danny Free, 63, a nice Southern gentleman living in his hometown of Anderson, S.C. He picked up on the second ring. 

 "I lost my driver's license, and several people used it as their own," he said, explaining he had never been to Jacksonville, where Hazen said he picked up Free's ID at a motel.

Hazen's quiet life as Charlie Free in Las Vegas turned out to be the least of the real Free's problems. Free was a truck driver, and he got fired from two jobs because other people who stole his identity racked up several DUIs.

"It took several weeks to clear that up, but by then they had taken my truck away from me," Free said.

He didn't seem too impressed by Hazen's double life.

"What he did doesn't concern me," Free said.

 
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