Vice Mayor Explains Why He Voted No on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Coral Springs

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Although medical marijuana was passed by 71 percent of Florida voters in 2016, the City of Coral Springs banned local businesses and land use approvals for dispensaries due to the fact that no rules and regulations were yet established by the state. 

At the Coral Springs Parkland Democratic Club meeting, cancer survivor and medical marijuana patient, Dena Blauschild, asked Vice Mayor Lou Cimaglia what his opinion was on medical marijuana dispensaries.

“We voted no, with the stipulations that we wanted more leadership from Tallahassee. In other words, we don’t want one on every corner,” Cimaglia told the audience.

He said that they just wanted to regulate them, and if they said yes to them, they would pop up on every street corner. “And we don’t want that.” 

Cimaglia also said that marijuana was a gateway drug to harder drugs which was met with opposition from the audience.

“It’s been proven that marijuana is a gateway drug,” he said.

“No no no,” grumbled audience members.

“Everybody has their own opinion, and I respect that.” 

He told the story of being in Judge Ari Porth’s courtroom when they went to a back room and he was introduced to another judge who handles marijuana cases. She told him,  ‘In my court, I have found that if they get into marijuana, in most cases, they’re going to end up on opioids.’ 

“This is from the judge.  This is from the judge.  So if you have any questions, call the judge,” said Cimaglia.

Blauschild wasn’t satisfied with his answer. 

“He couldn’t answer the question and paraphrased a mystery judge,” she said. “His answer was a non-answer. It’s time for him to pass the baton to someone who is more attuned to the real problems our city’s residents face today.”

Coral Springs resident Roy Trachtenberg, who was in the audience, said that Cimaglia was repeating an old wives’ tale that is completely false.

Trachtenberg had three back operations, and before his double hip replacement, he went to a pain doctor who prescribed opioids.

“Opioids such Oxycodone are the most addictive drugs available. I found that I needed more of the drug to mask the pain, and I was becoming addicted to them.”

After his double hip replacement, he went to another pain doctor who was specially trained to prescribe medical marijuana. Marijuana also masked the pain, but he found that he did not need more of it, nor did he have the urge to take it every day like the opioids.

“I still have pain from scar tissue, but with medical marijuana, I am able to live a normal life free from opioids.”

He said if he had continued with Oxycodone, he would have been addicted and probably overdosed on it, because over time the body needs more of the drug to mask the pain. Medical marijuana doesn’t work that way. 

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other harder substances, like cocaine or heroin.  Scientists have long abandoned the gateway theory that marijuana leads to other drug addiction. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences wrote: There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

Last January, three commissioners voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city including Cimaglia, and Commissioners Joy Carter and Larry Vignola.

Blauschild said, “He was not prepared or educated on the topic, yet he feels he can make decisions for us.” 

Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.