Pro-marijuana July 4th float ignites controversy

A controversial float at a 4th of July event has some local anti-drug advocates questioning how it was allowed in.

Saturday, the floats rolled down Ridgedale Road for the annual Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce July 4th parade. In the middle of it all was a float with a "blunt" message -- a giant medical marijuana joint on a boat.
Those behind it say the 4th was the perfect time to celebrate freedom of speech. Others say it was the wrong place to do it.
It was sponsored by the Central Florida chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or "NORML."
The boat was towed by a stretch limo for, which sells edible marijuana products.
"This is not about getting high, this is about getting relief to sick people," said Central FL NORML Executive Director Christopher Cano. "We felt Temple Terrace was the best fit for us between cost and size of the crowd and advocacy efforts. It was a pretty awesome float. A lot of positive response from the crowd. People loved it. Out of those 2,000 fliers that we passed out, only 10 people said no."
The loudest "no" is now coming from the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance.
"Having a venue that is normally targeting families and children that get beads and candy to be mixed in with legalizing marijuana," said HCADA Board Chair Ellen Snelling, "they were handing out green beads and information about their organization. It didn't seem like the proper place."
Snelling questions whether the city's chamber should weed out certain messages. "I would just like to have someone look into it further and make sure they were upfront and don't let it happen next year."

The Drug-Free America Foundation deputy director Amy Ronshausen chimed in, saying, "Pot promotion is reckless and parade organizers should be ashamed of the pro-drug message received by families in attendance."

But, those pushing for legalization of medical marijuana say family is at the core of their message.

"When is the right time?" asked Cano, "when grandparents and children are suffering because they can't get access to this? It's going to embolden us. We are looking forward into entering into more parades and celebrating our patriotism and celebrating our First Amendment rights."
We reached out to the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce but have not heard back. The parade application doesn't specify who can or can't participate or if any political messages are regulated.
As for Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, they're now asking the chamber to partner with them and host an upcoming Friday Night Done Right event.

CFL NORML issued a statement Wednesday saying they won't sit silent.