Editorial from The Tampa Tribune -
Voters should reject the medical marijuana amendment
Amendment 2 asks voters to make medical marijuana legal today on the promise that the state will later enact the rules and regulations necessary to prevent its abuse by doctors and distributors and by patients and the caregivers who can be certified to obtain the drug for others. It offers civil liability immunity to physicians, patients and dispensaries associated with medical marijuana use. It could allow for the smoking of marijuana plants that vary in intensity and ingredients and can cause many of the same ailments associated with cigarette smoking. And it legitimizes a drug that, according to studies, can impair brain development in minors.
In short, the amendment poses too many risks.
Amendment 2 supporters gathered the signatures needed to place the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot by telling the heart-wrenching stories of patients who find marijuana provides relief when no other drugs have helped. The proposed amendment lists cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as debilitating diseases that would qualify for medical marijuana treatment. But the list ends with the phrase, “… or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
That could make it available for almost any patient who can find a willing physician. How the marijuana would be produced and distributed remains to be determined by state officials who are now struggling with the rules related to the more acceptable Charlotte’s Web strain of marijuana that lawmakers voted to legalize this year. That strain is used to treat seizures and is non-euphoric and ingested through oils and other means rather than smoked. Because it doesn’t get its users high, it won’t be subject to the abuses that can be expected with the smokable marijuana permitted under Amendment 2.
An alternative to smokable marijuana, the synthetic drug Marinol, has Federal Drug Administration approval and can be taken by pill form. Although its cost may be greater, and the effects not always as immediate or lasting as smoking the drug, Marinol is proven to be safe and is available through a doctor’s prescription to treat weight loss and nausea associated with treatments for disease.
Marijuana can’t be prescribed by doctors and dispensed through pharmacies because it’s illegal under federal law. Amendment 2 would create state-sanctioned dispensaries to distribute marijuana to patients certified by a doctor for its use.
State estimates put the number of medical marijuana patients in Florida at less than 450,000. But with the broad language in Amendment 2, that number might prove to be a joke. And whether the state will allow “pot shops” in our communities to serve those patients, or require parental consent for minors before certifying their marijuana use, are questions to be addressed in regulations that remain to be written.
Twenty-three other states have legalized medical marijuana, with varying results. The first, California, turned the law into a farce that stains the reputation of that state. Florida’s reputation risks a similar stain if Amendment 2 passes and abuses occur.
The amendment’s chief supporter, trial lawyer John Morgan, insists the law is about helping thousands of suffering patients and nothing more. But his buffoonish performance before a group of Lakeland bar patrons betrayed that insistence by revealing a cavalier attitude about casual marijuana use. It bolstered suspicions that the amendment is really about opening the door to full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, as Washington state and Colorado have done.
Supporter Ben Pollara, who is leading the campaign for passage, says the state Supreme Court has affirmed that the ballot language for Amendment 2 is not vague or too broad. But the legal opinion about ballot language doesn’t address the alarming loopholes in the amendment.
We are not without compassion for the sufferers of chronic pain. But the wording of this amendment opens the door to abuse. It’s based on blind faith that the state adopts the right rules and has the capacity to enforce them.
On Amendment 2, the Tribune recommends a “no” vote.
For the rest of the story and others, see: http://tbo.com/list/news-opinion-editorials/tribune-editorial-voters-should-reject-the-medical-marijuana-amendment-20140928/
For additional information and to get involved, go to www.VoteNo2.org
or like them on Facebook: NoOnAmendment2