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Florida Amendment 2: Let’s Break it Down

Brenda Snipes

Now we are not going to talk about the advancements of medicinal marijuana or how beneficial it can be in the future of medicinal treatments for ailments such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and ALS because we already did that. But what we are going to talk about is what specifically this amendment says and who the opponents of the ballots are.

Florida Amendment 2

Firstly, let us say that our information comes straight from BallotPedia.

Ballot Summary: “Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.” – Quoted Verbatim.

That is it. It shall legalize marijuana medicinally, more importantly, did they use the term ‘debilitating medical conditions.’ For this, we are once again going to find the verbatim text so that we can further identify what this applies to.

““Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” – UnitedForCare

So reducing this to plaintext means that Amendment 2 in Florida means “Legalizing the use of Medicinal Marijuana if licensed by a physician for caregivers to assist patients, of which the patients are struggling with diseases such as Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, AIDS, HIV, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, and other debilitating medical conditions with similar physical disabilities.

So we have determined that medical marijuana is for a small amount of the population of Florida. The population in questions are dealing with conditions that drastically change their quality of life, and medical marijuana could treat them. So who would oppose Amendment 2?

Florida Chamber of Commerce – “We were in good company, and I think that we are proud to be part of a coalition that defeated it last time.” Vice President David Hart

Drug-Free Florida Committee

Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition – “The truth of the matter is, it is pseudo-legalization. Only a very small percentage of the people that participate in this program have a chronic illness or critical illness.” –Jeff Kadel

Florida Medical Association - “There is nothing medical about this proposal, and the lack of scientific evidence that pot is helpful in treating medical conditions is far from inclusive.” – CEO Tim Stapleton

Florida Sherrifs Association – “the legalization of marijuana would be contrary to the interests of the public health, safety and welfare, and would undermine the quality of life of the citizens of the state of Florida.” – FSA including: Orange County Sherriff Jerry Demings Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart Kern County Sheriff, President of the California State Sheriffs Association

Orange County, California Sheriff and President of Major County Sheriffs Association – “Wonder what Amendment 2 will do to Florida? The same thing it did to California. Pushing pot for things like trouble sleeping, and anxiety. Amendment 2 isn’t about helping the sick; it is about legalizing pot. In California, we learned that. The hard way. Don’t let it happen to Florida.”

Florida Medicinal Marijuana

So as you can see the majority of the people against medical marijuana are sheriffs, medical associations, and the Florida Chamber of commerce. So we are going to take the time to see if their claims are valid.

Sheriffs and The Law – Law enforcement has not been in the best light in recent years with multiple unwarranted assaults and fatalities linked to improper police conduct. Movements like Black Lives Matters and others are sprouting up as a direct result and opposition to Law Enforcement. But that does not make their claims and concerns any less important. To make the digestion of information easier we are going to keep it to bullet points.

50% of all arrests are marijuana related. • Blacks are 3.5 times more likely than Whites to be arrested for Marijuana. One study states Marijuana would not increase the number of homicide and assault and could potentially reduce overall crime. Note: Marijuana MAY reduces crime. It is not proven.

Medical Association – The biggest concerns of medical professionals are that medicinal marijuana lacks substantial evidence to warrant being legalized and that the legalization would be a gateway for people to abuse the medical system to use marijuana.

Our biggest gripe with this claim is that there are plenty of studies that show positive effects of marijuana on overall health, especially with debilitating diseases, of which this bill is specifically aimed to. And that legalizing medicinal marijuana would make studying and conduct research much easier for other medical facilities. The progression of medical marijuana requires legal leeway.

Second, it is undeniable that there will be people who will exploit the system for their personal gain, but that is a fight for healthcare reform, not for medical marijuana. Since Florida has been creating tougher laws for opioid prescriptions, it has made exploitation of this practice much harder to achieve, and there’s no reason to assume that people seeking medicinal marijuana could not be held to the same rigorous standards.

Florida Chamber of Commerce – Jeb Bush and the Chamber of Commerce oppose medicinal marijuana for only one specifically cited reason: “Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” said Bush. “Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

Their fears seem to be rooted in the conservative ideology that marijuana is either explicitly bad or that it would increase crime, which has already been argued against in the Sheriffs and The Law section. So they fear for the image of their state and worry that medicinal marijuana would taint that image. There’s no reason to pick apart their subjective, unfounded claim.

If you are against Amendment 2, please take a moment to think about the lives it will affect. With 70% of voters currently tracking to be for Amendment 2, it could be a landmark change for our state. I hope that this article could in any way sway you or help clear up any problems or reservations you have with the bill. This is a good thing for the county. Good or bad, problems that come up with medicinal marijuana will be solved, we cannot progress as a nation if we do not allow change to happen.

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