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Florida has enacted flawed medicinal cannabis laws that only apply to people with cancer, severe muscle spasms, seizures, and terminally ill patients that are expected to die within a year. These patients are allowed to use “low-THC cannabis” which contains 0.8% or less of THC and more than 10% CBD.

Florida has remained firm on their zero tolerance policy when it comes to recreational cannabis, and offenses range from punishable to jail time. A misdemeanor of possessing less than 20 grams of cannabis, which includes something as trivial as being caught with a blunt, could land a person a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey collected data from a little over 65,000 students grade 6-12 about their drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

  • Past 30 day use of any illicit drug other than cannabis dropped from 10.6% in 2004 to 6.8% in 2016
  • Past 30 day rate of 9.6% for electronic vapor use, nearly three times the rate of cigarette use
  • Past 30 day use of cigarettes is impressively down since 2004; 5.5% in middle schoolers and 10.2% in high schoolers
  • Cannabis use in Florida has fluctuated; 11.1% in 2008, 13% in 2010, to 11.2% in 2016 for past 30 day use.
  • In 2016, 31.7% of high schoolers surveyed used cannabis at least once in their life, 17% used cannabis in the last 30 days, 6.6% used cannabis at least once or twice in a previous month.

Even though cannabis is illegal in Florida, people continue to get their hands on it. People resort to the black market which is not safe route because the cannabis is not labeled so buyers do not know what they are receiving, which makes it easier to end up with a “laced” product. Another issue arising from cannabis being illegal, is the fact people are resorting to synthetic copycat drugs to get a high. Drugs with street names such as K2 and spice are being used as a substitute for cannabis. These synthetic drugs are composed of chemicals that mimic a similar “high” effect as cannabis, although make note K2 is dangerous substance to consume.

Regardless of the current laws in Florida, a recent event took place called The Rolling Loud Festival, a hip hop music festival that happened in Miami, Florida on May 5th to 7th, 2017. The festival showcased known rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, Migos, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, and many others in attendance, tickets were sold out and over 40,000 people packed Bayfront Park Station.

My Experience at Rolling Loud

Immediately, when I walked in I was greeted with the distinct smell of cannabis and saw a number of people walking around freely with a blunt or joint in their mouth and passing it among their friends. Just like any other festival, there were a large number of police officers there keeping everyone safe, and I was surprised that they were overlooking people practically blowing O’s in their faces, especially in the conservative state of Florida where recreational cannabis is illegal and medicinal cannabis is barely legal. On the streets and in the parking lots located within square feet from the festival, I was confused to see people getting arrested for smoking there or in their cars, because they had no problem with it inside of the festival. I talked to one of the guards who was searching people before they entered the festival and asked her if she was confiscating cannabis and she pulled out a container with at least three grams and two very packed blunts. This information left me with a question, the only place where it’s acceptable to smoke in Florida is at this festival where you have to sneak it in?

When I asked one of the first responders how people have been passing out in the crowds, my own thoughts rushed to the people who are located in the pit, the area in the very front of the crowd next to the stage, because those crowds typically stay up there all day in the 90° Florida weather without water. The responder told me incidents were passing out occurs is due to the fact people are smoking cannabis, which dehydrates the body, and drinking alcohol, which also dehydrates; this is an unhealthy practice commonly referred to as being “cross faded” or drunk and high at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend this practice in the 90 degree weather.

Rolling Loud Despite Florida Laws

Typically in hip hop music, cannabis is central to the culture, as every other song mentions its’ use, and it’s not uncommon for rappers to perform live while smoking a blunt or a joint on stage. I’ve been to several other festivals and the atmosphere at Rolling Loud is different. Of course there were the people bum rushing the stage and moshing that upset others, but overall everyone was so accepting and passing around blunts and joints to complete strangers. They just wanted to smoke, watch their favorite artist perform, and make some new friends. Not all teenagers and young adults who smoke cannabis are troublemakers, drug addicts, lazy, unmotivated, and uncaring like the myths say, sometimes we just like to get high with our friends and listen to music.