They call it wacky tobacky. Hydro. Chronic. Trees. Mary Jane. Those who partake in marijuana consumption for pleasure have many a fond nickname for the illegal herb. Those who have suffered from terminal illnesses; both physical and mental, and found relief in the calming clouds of smoke call it something else: medicine. There’s nothing wacky about that. The therapeutic benefits of cannabis have been proven, but still go overlooked by the federal government. This year the organizers of the 10th annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert think they can smell hope wafting in the air.

“It’s a human issue; it shouldn’t be political. Sick people have enough to deal with without worrying about being judged or jailed for the thing that makes them feel better,” says an organizer of the annual fundraising festival – now officially the largest and longest-running medical marijuana event in Florida.

“The left has made healthcare a major issue, but only time will tell if they make real change on medical marijuana. We can’t do worse than we’re doing now,” the organizer says.

The event featured live music, dance, poetry, social satire, and true stories from Irv Rosenfeld and Elvy Musikka, two of the five still-surviving legal medical marijuana patients. Besides the shows and speeches, there were crafts up for grabs from an array of local vendors; There was also a great selection of information and material from NORML (National Organization for the reform of Marijuana Laws and co-sponsor of the event).

A wide variety of musical styles including jazz, rock, reggae, folk, experimental, hip hop, and psychedelic grooves were featured. Troops of artists from various art communes presented short plays, and experimental art.

The event’s main goal was to raise finds for Florida NORML medical marijuana campaign and the protection of patient’s rights. Previously, a person’s right to use medical necessity as a defense to marijuana charges have been upheld in several appeals courts in Florida.

Marijuana has proven therapeutically useful in treating numerous medical conditions including muscle spasticity, arthritis, depression/anxiety, and the nausea and loss of appetite related to AIDS and cancer chemotherapy.

Currently there are 11 states that have laws allowing marijuana to be used as medicine, but federal enforcement has been a constant harassment.