According to a new study by The University of Miami's Mambi Center for Marijuana Studies, a majority of Miami-Dade County's marijuana users mistakenly believe the drug has been legalized.
The Plantain spoke to the Center's lead marijuana researcher Dr. David Vera about the results of the study. "Among Miami's marijuana users, something like 70% believe the drug is legal," said Dr. Vera, himself an habitual marijuana user.
When asked what accounted for local pot users' mistaken belief, Dr. Vera explained it was due to widespread misconceptions about the result of a failed 2012 medical marijuana referendum, uncertainty about local efforts to reduce arrests for marijuana possession, as well as a third reason that Dr. Vera couldn't remember, but described as significant before getting distracted and asking whether this reporter watched Bojack Horseman. When I told him I had not, Dr. Vera described several of his favorite jokes and set pieces from the animated show about a washed-up alcoholic actor, who also is a horse.
"It's hilarious," giggled Dr. Vera to himself as he took a bite of an oversize marshmallow. "But also so sad, you know. I watched an episode last night and they made an "if you give a mouse a cookie" reference! My mind was blown," explained the researcher before interrupting his own story because he finally remembered that the third factor contributing to local marijuana user’s unfamiliarity with drug laws is “the lack of discourse about issues that impact young people within our community."
The Plantain decided to test Dr. Vera’s theory and catch up with a group of marijuana enthusiasts we found at Indian Hammock Park.
“I’m pretty sure we voted for it a few years ago” said 26-year-old Hialeah native Annette Alvarez, referring to a 2012 statewide medical marijuana ballot initiative that failed by only 3%. “I didn’t vote, pero like, we won - right?”, asked the high school civics teacher as she was handed a half-consumed joint from her friend, 31-year-old GameStop employee Derek Medina.
“No, yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s legal, right? I mean, I buy weed all the time from the gas station,” said Mr. Medina before saying “but now that I think about it, it’s just this one gas station, and only when my friend Tony is working.”
When asked whether they would stop using marijuana now that they knew it was still illegal, Ms. Alvarez and Mr. Medina said they would not.
“Weed it like natural and homopathic,” said Ms. Alvarez as she took a hit of the joint packed with a strain of marijuana known as “Elian Gonzalez” which was engineered to produce a "body and mind high so extreme it makes you want to hide in the closet.” “There’s no reason to stop,” Ms. Alvarez said once again before laying her back on the grass to take what appeared to be an impromptu emergency mid-day nap.
Among the other conclusions reported in Dr. Vera’s study are the identification of other commonly held misconceptions about marijuana among Miami-Dade residents, including:
• You can smoke in your car if traffic is annoying;
• You can possess up to 28 grams (1 oz) of marijuana if you have anxiety about getting more marijuana;
• You can smoke in your car during work breaks if you make less than $9 per hour or more than $115,000 per year;
• You should try to avoid blowing smoke in a cop’s face, but whatever.
Outside a Sedano’s Supermarket in Hialeah, the Plantain caught up with stock boy Gonzalo Diaz-Balart as he smoked a blunt and enjoyed an expired Smuckers Uncrustables behind a dumpster on his lunch break. “I need to stay medicated all day, you know. For work. I’m glad we live in such an enlightened and modern city.”
When informed that what he was doing was still illegal in the state of Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart expressed disbelief. When told that the question of whether medical marijuana should be made legal in Florida would, once again, be put to voters this November, the stock boy said he thought that was “dope”, but admitted he probably wouldn't vote.
“I just don’t see the point of voting. None of that shit affects me,” said Mr. Diaz-Balart as he took another hit and added "Bro, this Pie Face OG has me lifted as fuck.”