A 10-foot-long mechanical joint has caused controversy for the second year in a row at a Florida 4th of July parade.
The inclusion of the joint in Temple Terrace’s parade was backed by the Central Florida chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). According to Chris Cano, the organizer of the float, the inclusion of the joint was completely above board.
“We filed all the paperwork, paid our fees. We are doing everything by the book. We want our message to be heard loud and clear,” he says. “We want to be taken seriously... This is all about education, not pushing drugs on anyone’s kids. This is a legitimate medicine that we want to see doctors recommend to suffering patients.”
Cano -- who says that his father is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a medical condition that some studies find could be treated using cannabis -- said that he and his group had received an outpouring of support for the joint’s inclusion along the parade route.
Many parents, however, see things differently.
“This should not be around children,” says Ellen Snelling, the chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance and a mother of three children. “The biggest problem I have is the blunt. That shouldn’t be at a family parade. They have free speech and can spread their message, but that blunt shouldn’t be there.”
Snelling made a call to the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce to voice her concern over the joint, but the Chamber ultimately ruled with NORML on free-speech grounds. According to Cano, the inclusion of the joint was a no-brainer.
“What we’re talking about here is saving lives,” he says. “Why don’t they get that?”