United for Care calls out Florida Sheriffs’ anti-medical pot campaign

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Medical marijuana advocates United for Care is disputing a new public campaign to oppose Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment legalizing medical pot in Florida.

“Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot” is the latest effort by the Florida Sheriffs Association to warn voters about the dangers of drug use, which they claim will intensify with legalization of marijuana to treat a variety of medical ailments.

“While United for Care deeply respects the good work of Florida’s sheriffs and law enforcement officers,” according to the United for Care statement issued Tuesday, “we must clarify inaccuracies in its recent statement as well as misconceptions about what Amendment 2 would and would not do.”

United for Care points out that the Sheriffs Association cherry picked statistics to present a thoroughly distorted picture.

For example, the Association claims, “of the 20 states with the highest driver acknowledgment of drugged driving, 15 were states that have passed legislation legalizing marijuana.”

What the FSA fails to include is a study published in the Journal of Law and Economics examining figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 20 years, the report found traffic fatalities have not only not risen, they’ve actually declined by 8-10% in states with approved medical marijuana laws in the first full year after those laws came into effect.

The FSA also asserts “Los Angeles and Denver police departments have reported significant increases in crime since marijuana was legalized in their respective states.”

Again, United for Care says the sheriffs leave out key information.

Another study, this one from the University of Texas at Dallas, examined Federal Bureau of Investigation figures, and determined that there has been no increase in crime rates in the states allowing the use of medical marijuana.

“With no quality or dosage control,” the FSA continues, “there is nothing in place to prevent these storefront marijuana dispensaries from selling to minors.”

In reality, Amendment 2 would do no such thing.

If passed by the voters, the text of the amendment requires the Department of Health or its successor agency to issue “a regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence.”

Current Florida parental consent laws do not allow physicians to provide treatment to minors without the consent of guardians, except only a few limited scenarios — such as emergencies or pregnancies.

United for Care representatives urges members of the FSA to read the actual ballot language, instead of resorting to scare tactics.

They add that Amendment 2 should be supported because it is compassionate, as opposed to further criminalizing medicine and coming between doctors and patients.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.