Amendment 2 may be on the November ballot, but don’t expect the push to change the Florida Constitution to legalize medical marijuana to sail through.
The Drug Free Florida Committee – partnering Save Our Society from Drugs and the Florida Sheriffs Association – for example, hopes to snuff out support. Orange and Seminole County Sheriffs Jerry Demings and Don Eslinger recently shared concerns with the Sentinel Editorial Board. An excerpt of the discussion appears here and on YouTube. Search “Orlando Sentinel.”
Q: What consequences do you foresee should Amendment 2 pass?
E: I think it will adversely impact our quality of life. Even [state analysts’ projections] show from [417,252] to 1.6 million qualifying patients. They estimate there’ll be over 1,700 pot shops and treatment centers. We believe it’s de facto legalization. [For] qualifying patients, there is no age requirement. [Proprietors are] free from civil and criminal liability, as is the physician … and then even the treatment centers, including employees, are held harmless in this amendment.
Q: What is the Sheriffs Association position on Charlotte’s Web?
D: I believe I stand with the majority of sheriffs in that we’re very compassionate about individuals for whom this could benefit them in some health way. Charlotte’s Web is a non-euphoric, nonsmokable form of marijuana that certainly assists some individuals with debilitating illnesses. We get that….
We want to avoid the likelihood that individuals will simply be skirting the law and using the ruse of using [other forms of marijuana] for medical purposes, but really doing it for recreational purposes or supporting some other habit they have.
E: There have been states where they passed medical and go back for another voter initiative for recreational use.
Q: Can you see how amendment supporters would want to expand the compassionate Charlotte’s Web appoach?
D: That’s the challenge, I think, and the problem we see with the current language in the amendment. It’s not clear enough to avoid the abuse of misapplication of what is intended … It is disturbing to me that this amendment [is] being pushed forward without one shred of medical science to back it up; yet it is being pushed forward for medical reasons.
Q: Could there have been an amendment legalizing marijuana for medical purposes that you think the Sheriffs Association could have supported?
E: No. We don’t think that offering medicine to the public by popular vote without the FDA safety net [is wise].
Q: What about critics who say your objection about kids’ access to pot is a red herring?
E: United for Care ( a campaign run by People United for Medical Marijuana and chaired by Orlando attorney John Morgan ) will say that physicians are not allowed to provide medical treatment to minors without parental or guardian consent, and therefore, our age issue is groundless. This isn’t medical treatment. They’re not going to provide medical treatment. They are recommending, without DEA consent and their control number, and they’re issuing a card from the Department of Health.
Q: With medical marijuana already legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, isn’t this becoming more common and less definitional for Florida and other states that are considering it?
D: It’s not purely a defining moment for Florida; it’s a defining moment for our nation. This is obviously something sweeping across the nation and multiple states.
Q: Advocates often liken laws against marijuana to prohibition against alcohol. How do you think it’s different?
E: Alcohol and tobacco – we haven’t done a good job with [either]. That’s the two leading causes of preventable death, and adding marijuana through de facto legalization isn’t going to help us.