“Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” goes to Tallahassee to oppose medical marijuana

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On Tuesday, a group of medical, drug abuse and law enforcement interests descended on Tallahassee to voice disapproval of Amendment 2, the constitutional measure seeking to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot, a coalition of the Florida Sheriffs Association and more than 100 partners, wants to educate Floridians on the dangers of medical marijuana and the effects that Amendment 2, if passed in November, would have on communities statewide.

“The legalization of marijuana in Florida is a very important issue to Florida’s law enforcement, and the Florida Sheriffs Association supports the efforts of the Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “Educating our citizens to the dangers of illegal drugs such as marijuana is a high priority.”

The organization points out that marijuana has “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” making Amendment 2 a “dangerous decision” for the citizens of Florida.

Like the state’s other major anti-Amendment 2 group — the Vote No on 2 campaign — Go to Pot believes that the proposed amendment is “filled with loopholes,” such as allowing doctors to authorize use of medical marijuana for virtually any reason and with little regulation. The result is a “potential to harm families and diminish the quality of life.”

“As someone who has seen the effects that can come from substance abuse and understands addictive qualities of marijuana, Amendment 2 creates a system that will ultimately lead to drug abuse,” said Kent Runyon, director of the privately funded Novus Medical Detox Center. There are proven alternatives to smoked marijuana that effectively deliver THC or CBD to people who truly can benefit from it — and eliminate the individuals who are attempting to use it for a high.”

The coalition lists three specific concerns:

  • The measure provides no age restrictions, which will allow youth to obtain medical marijuana easily without parental consent. Language requires confidentiality of all qualifying patients, which may trump parents’ right to notice and consent.
  • Caregivers, as described in the amendment, are not required to have background checks, training or certifications. They believe this loophole opens the door to abuse, allowing addicts, drug dealers, and convicted felons to become so-called “caregivers.”
  • If approved, the amendment undoes recent efforts to combat the current prescription pill epidemic. To them, legalizing medical marijuana would simply replace pill mills with pot shops.

“Amendment 2 is a misleading, well thought-out fraud,” according to Florida Sheriffs Association President Grady Judd, Sheriff of Polk County. “The amendment does not require a doctor’s prescription, rather only a recommendation. There is a loophole big enough to float a battleship through that will allow anyone in Florida to obtain pot for any reason — making it nearly impossible for law enforcement to hold dealers and pot shop doctors accountable.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.