Medical marijuana has taken high profile since Florida A&M University jump started its first Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative. According to the initiative’s website, MMERI’s mission is to educate and inform Florida’s diverse minority communities about the benefits of medical marijuana and the potential consequences to health and well-being from recreational use.
On Sunday, Oct. 20, a community forum for the initiative was held at the MaxOut Church in Melbourne during the 10 a.m. service. Pastor Leo Stoney invited FAMU to his church to help educate his congregation and the rest of the Melbourne community on the benefits of medical marijuana and the consequences of the illegal use of marijuana.
“My stance as a community pastor is to always embrace opportunities where I can inform, educate and increase awareness to topics that impact my church membership and our community,” Stoney said in a telephone interview.
Many people heard about the church’s community forum and immediately frowned upon it being scheduled during regular church service, but they failed to realize the true intent behind this. “People were able to gain knowledge and information that they did not have. Whatever may have been on their hearts or minds, they were able to ask questions and get answers,” Stoney said.
The forum allowed the Melbourne community the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the substance and get answers from medical experts, law enforcement and city officials.
Patricia Green-Powell, the interim executive director for the initiative, was grateful that the pastor allowed FAMU to educate and inform the community. “His congregation came. They showed up and showed out with such great energy,” Green-Powell said.
This goes to show that people are open to learning about the research as long as they’re able to express their concerns and reduce their curiosity. We need to take advantage of this new research and truly understand the benefits that come from it.
We’ve attached such a negative stigma to marijuana that causes some people to frown upon the use of medical marijuana and prevent them from reaping or educating themselves on the benefits of it.
We have to be able to adapt to the new ways of the world so that we can continue to better our quality of life. FAMU’s new initiative is a prime example of a community willing and able to accept the recent findings in this new line of research.
This new initiative has jump started a new mindset on the concept of marijuana in general. It’s also helped develop new relationships between FAMU and the MaxOut Church.
“We look to do this again with even more clergy and members of the faith-based community to be sure to continue increasing the knowledge, information and awareness surrounding this particular issue and others as they come up,” Stoney said.