Gov. DeSantis says new moment-of-silence law in public schools protects religious freedom Reply to ban anything that is LEGAL is a miscarriage of justice and any politician that does this NEEDS to be removed from office…BANS in a FREE country are Unconstitutional and should be ….’BANNED’…… no pun intended….imho December 31, 2017 at 11:30 am Please enter your name here Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply January 1, 2018 at 1:09 am Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of 24 articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2017 that were among the most noteworthy. We will post all of them from December 26th through December 31st. Then on Monday, January 1st we will poll our readers and let them decide which is Apopka’s biggest story of 2017.Story #24: 5-0 vote sends Ordinance 2388 back to the drawing boardFirst published on December 22nd, 2017 OpinionBy Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka VoiceAt its Wednesday meeting, The Apopka City Council voted unanimously to modify Ordinance 2388 – which banned the sale of medical marijuana in Apopka.That is the takeaway, but how they arrived at that result is the true story…* * *It was 6:30 PM. 30 minutes before the beginning of the Apopka City Council meeting, and dozens of people were present in the chamber, and in the parking lot at City Hall.“This is going to be a long night,” I said to my colleague sitting at the media table.“Yeah I’m guessing 10 PM,” he replied.“I’ll take 10:30 as the over/under,” I said back to him, hoping his prediction was the winner.And as we spoke, the Council Chamber filled to capacity.On its own, the Council agenda was full. There were three items on the consent agenda, three items on the business agenda, and 10 items on the public hearings/ordinances/resolutions agenda, including the second reading on an alcoholic beverages ordinance that was bound to be debated for a long period of time.It was going to be a long meeting.But the primary reason Council Chambers was a full house was because of Commissioner Kyle Becker’s request to discuss policy revisions on Ordinance 2388 concerning medical marijuana.Speakers from all over the state shared their experiences. They came from Gainesville, New Port Richey, Bushnell, Lake Mary and Pasco County to explain to the Council how medical marijuana had, in many cases, given them their lives back. In total, 14 spoke in favor of medical marijuana, while four speakers were against it. Mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, veterans and Apopkans all got up and told their story with a common theme of how medical cannabis saved their lives or eased their pain.It was a moving presentation that gave the City Council a lot to think about.Becker, Commissioner Doug Bankson, and Mayor Joe Kilsheimer had the most to say once the issue was given back to the Council. Becker opened with his presentation that seemed to gain purpose after hearing those 18 people speak.“I’m pretty passionate about the compassionate use of medical marijuana,” he said. That does not mean I’m compassionate about crime. I do realize there are people who will take advantage of anything. But by a show of hands how many people have been personally affected, or have a family member or close friend who suffers from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Krohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis? Quite a few. By the same show of hands how many people have been convicted of strong-arm robbery, burglary of a dwelling, how many people have taken advantage of someone in a criminal manner? Not many. And so for us to sit up here and make a policy decision based on the lowest common denominator of our society is not helping.”Becker went on to focus on the credibility of the dispensaries, and ask for a revision to the current ordinances that do not allow medical marijuana in Apopka.“The fact of the matter is that these are very legitimate longterm businesses that are not going to jeopardize their business by transacting in something that is not safe. The product they sell is legal, and obviously a major health benefit to the people that use it. So what I recommend to this Council is that we revoke the ban and that we entertain good sound legislation and policy for the residents of Apopka – 71% of whom overwhelmingly voted to support this product so that they can have readily available access to it.”Bankson was the most verbal about his apprehension to welcoming medical marijuana into Apopka, but he too left the door open after hearing those stirring accounts.“Everyone has heartfelt feeling and emotion behind this, and the only way we can rationally deal with this is to diffuse the emotion and look at the heart of the issue. The problem is there is a ditch on both sides of the road. And there’s no question that this is not a debate about the benefits of cannabis. But there are experts who are cautioning us about some of the other things. Here is my perspective – there is a ditch on both sides of the road. You have some saying you can’t fall into this side of the ditch – true. The other things – and this is the thing that angers me – sincere people are being used for what’s coming next and that concerns me. All you have to do is google Mr. Morgan’s rant that says we’re going to get this (marijuana) for recreational use. But all medications have pros and cons… and when you’re suffering severely it’s worth trading these things to get relief. I understand that. It was stated that one or two dispensaries would be a godsend. That’s my issue. Just because Orange County voted yes is not reason enough for me to say ‘let’s open the floodgates.’ I would feel more comfortable if we had a zoning measure similar to what we had before we were put in this situation to make us look like the bad guys. You’d have to be heartless not to care about these people. But we do have a responsibility to both ditches, and the danger is what has happened in the eight states (that legalized marijuana both recreationally and for medical purposes). Florida is more restrictive, but they are using this as a springboard, they have openly stated this. The question is are we opening a door that we may regret? How can we fulfill what everyone wants… and doesn’t want? As an elected official I do feel that responsibility and knowing there’s a huge lobby all across the US to try and make it (marijuana) for recreational use.”Despite his reservations, he too was open to Becker’s proposal.“So what can we do with this? If we can deal with the zoning… what can we do to keep it for the pure purposes and get it to those who sincerely need the help? So I am open to addressing this as a zoning matter as long as we don’t open the door to another ditch.”Kilsheimer reminded the Council of what circumstances created the ban in the first place. However, those circumstances changed after a surprising vote by Orange County.“We’ve got to keep this simple, and for me, this has always been a zoning issue,” he said. “And the reason it’s a zoning issue is that you get one choice – ban or don’t ban. My sole objection prior to us considering the ban a few weeks ago was supposedly all of the jurisdictions around us were going to ban it, and if we didn’t we would wind up with all the dispensaries. Well, that went out the window when Orange County voted to allow dispensaries. As it stands today, we’re going to have it on our doorstep whether we take action or not. It’s a zoning issue. Therefore it makes no sense for Apopka to continue to keep banning medical marijuana dispensaries.”The discussion went back and forth between Council and City Attorney Cliff Shepard until a resolution was found, at which point Kilsheimer asked Becker to make a motion:“I would move that we instruct staff to make revisions to Ordinance 2388 to allow for medical marijuana treatment centers in the city of Apopka, which marches us towards the eventual revocation of Ordinance 2582 which bans medical marijuana treatment centers within the city of Apopka,” Becker said, and then watched as his motion carried 5-0 to the applause of a still large crowd.* * *So it was an emotional, passionate, sometimes adversarial evening. It’s not too often that emotional presentations win the day with the City Council, or with me for that matter, but win the day they did.I went into this meeting indifferent to the issue… actually more interested in how Medical Marijuana might affect the coming Apopka elections. But in all sincerity, I left happy that those Apopkans that need medical marijuana might be given easier access to it.It was also good to see the Council, who only a few weeks ago voted 4-1 to ban medical marijuana, reverse its course when circumstances merited a change in direction. They worked through their diverse opinions on a volatile subject and made a good faith effort to do what was best for some of its most vulnerable residents.Oh, and by the way, the meeting ended at 10:27 PM… just as the journalists predicted.Merry Christmas Apopka, and Merry Christmas to the City Council. You had a good night too. TAGSAmendment 2Apopka City CouncilCommissioner Kyle BeckerMedical Marijuana Previous articleThe Apopka news year in review: City Council passes ordinance to relax alcohol restrictionsNext articleThe first resolution for 2018: Volunteer Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR UF/IFAS in Apopka will temporarily house District staff; saves almost $400,000 d Florida gas prices jump 12 cents; most expensive since 2014 The Apopka news year in review: City Council votes to modify medical marijuana ban – C4 FL Reply 2 COMMENTS […] The Apopka news year in review: City Council votes to modify medical marijuana ban The Apopka VoiceFull coverage […] Please enter your comment! You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
July 20, 2017 Syria : Austin Tice’s family appeal to his captors, to governments Help by sharing this information Receive email alerts Journalist’s mother asks his abductors to let him speak to her SyriaMiddle East – North Africa Condemning abusesEvents Armed conflictsHostages Debra and Marc Tice, Austin Tice’s parents. (c) AFP Follow the news on Syria RSF_en Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Skeyes Centre for Media and Cultural Freedom today joined the parents of Austin Tice, a US journalist who was kidnapped nearly five years ago in Syria, in asking the US and Syrian governments to act quickly so that he can return home as soon as possible. Debra and Marc Tice, who have campaigned tirelessly on his behalf ever since his abduction on 14 August 2012, issue their latest appeal at a news conference at the Press Club in Beirut in the presence of RSF and Skeyes Centre representatives. At the time of his abduction, Austin Tice was freelancing for such leading international media outlets as the Washington Post, McClatchy, CBS and the BBC.“Austin was taken captive three days after his 31st birthday,” Debra and Marc Tice said in a joint statement at the news conference.“We can only imagine the things he was dreaming of doing – what he might have accomplished, enjoyed, and experienced during these five important years of his early thirties, including his graduation from law school. We are willing to engage with any government, group, or individual who can help us in our efforts to secure Austin’s safe release.”They also referred to the video posted on YouTube six weeks after his abduction that showed him blindfolded and handcuffed between armed captors. This video continues to be the only evidence that he did not die on the day he disappeared.“We now realize that the response to that video was not appropriate,” they said. “No one, including us, asked about a next step to engage toward Austin’s release. Realizing this horrible mistake, we now plead with those holding Austin to reach out to us again and give us another chance to communicate.”Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk, said: “Austin Tice is the only US journalist still held in Syria. It is thanks to his courage and the courage of other foreign and Syrian journalists that the Syrian civil war can be regarded as one of the best covered conflicts of all times.”Pointing out that governments are required by international law to protect journalists, El Khazen added: “Like Austin Tice’s parents, we ask the Syrian and US governments to do everything in their power to bring this journalist home.”Skeyes Centre executive director Ayman Mhanna said: “Austin Tice’s release would be a source of hope not only for his family but also for media freedom in the region and for all the other journalists detained or missing in Syria. His return would be a step towards a positive resolution of the conflict and towards an end to the Syrian people’s tragedy.”RSF has been assisting and advising the Tice family since September 2012. In February 2015, around 300 US news websites participated in the #FreeAustinTice campaign, which was designed to draw the public’s attention to his plight.Syria has been the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the past several years. Acts of intimidation, arrests, kidnappings and murders are all frequent and constitute a gruesome tableau. It is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. News SyriaMiddle East – North Africa Condemning abusesEvents Armed conflictsHostages News Organisation to go further May 19, 2015 Find out more
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