Hillsborough anti-drug group upset about July 4th medical marijuana parade float

TEMPLE TERRACE, FL – It’s a cannabis controversy. A Hillsborough County anti-drug group is furious after a pro-medical marijuana organization marched in a family-friendly 4th of July parade Saturday. The group has already contacted parade organizers asking the float be banned in the future.

Ellen Snelling is the chairman for the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance. She told News Channel 8 she has already made calls to the Chamber of Commerce to protest this pot presence. “To have that at a parade that is mainly families, and especially my children all the way to teenagers, it didn’t seem like the best venue for that type of free speech,” Snelling said.

However, the group behind the float told 8 On Your Side its members had every right to be there.  The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), isn’t backing down. Members have their sights on other Tampa Bay area parades, including Gasparilla. The Temple Terrace float included a giant mechanical joint, with smoke billowing out of it.

Chris Cano is the executive director for the Central Florida chapter of NORML. He and his colleagues were thrilled to be part of the parade for the first time. They maintain the response they got was phenomenal. “We’re not trying to push drugs on anyone’s kids. This is a legitimate medicine that we want to see doctors recommend to suffering patients,” Cano said.  “It was there to make the message clear. The words Rx are on the joint. This is medical cannabis.”

Cano is hoping to be a part of more parades in the future to “educate more Floridians,” he told News Channel 8.  What bothered him is the fact that there was a Confederate flag float right in front of him, passing out flags to parade attendees. “Why didn’t they get upset about that? What we’re talking about here is saving lives,” he said

News Channel 8 reached out to both the City of Temple Terrace and the parade organizers, but did not get a response. Cano and his colleagues are hoping to be a part of the Gasparilla parade next year for the first Krewe of Cannabis.  The medical marijuana issue will be on the 2016 ballot.

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