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One More Time: What Opponents of Amendment 2 on Medical Pot Get Wrong

| October 5, 2014

The light at the end of the pot. (Lylly man)

The light at the end of the pot. (Lylly man)

Bwen Pollara

Barney Bishop’s column in Context Florida opposing Amendment 2 was as rambling and incoherent as it was wrong.

One might suspect he’s gotten his hands on some of this “high THC” weed he’s so terrified about. I generally do the sensible thing and ignore Bishop’s paranoid screeds, but his latest missive not only contains the usual false arguments but also states that I (and this campaign) have not addressed those false arguments.


I have. We have. Again and again and again.

But here’s to you, Barney! One more time.

Bishop says: Charlotte’s Web is enough, marijuana with THC isn’t medicinal or needed

Wrong. Low-THC, high-CBD marijuana MAY work wonders for some (mostly those with seizure disorders) but does nothing for the the majority of Floridians who are suffering. Those with cancer, MS, ALS and many other afflictions need the stuff that gets you high. Sorry Barney.

And the Legislature has written such a poorly considered Charlotte’s Web law that the seizure-stricken kids who it was designed for are not likely to see much relief either. Turns out, some kids need 2 percent or even 4 percent THC to get results – the new law caps it at 1 percent.

That’s not even addressing the utter disaster of a business model the Legislature foisted onto the Department of Health. Or the fact that the law puts doctors in an extraordinary position of liability for “ordering” marijuana for their patients.

Now let’s discuss the “loopholes” that supposedly haven’t been addressed – but, in fact, have been addressed almost daily for months.

  1. Amendment 2 would allow “Pot for any purpose.”

The Florida Supreme Court very clearly addressed this one. This is not “pot for any purpose.” It is only for diseases and conditions that are “debilitating.”

This is no longer a valid argument. Opponents used it to ask the court to reject the amendment on the grounds it’s misleading.

In fact, the justices rejected THAT argument and affirmed that the language is clear. This is only for debilitating diseases. Period.

  1. Minors can get marijuana without parental consent.

Parental consent exists in Florida law. Doctors can’t and won’t treat minors without consent from a parent or legal guardian in non-emergency circumstances. Nothing in Amendment 2 changes that. Unless an amendment specifically repeals an existing law, that law remains in effect.

  1. Drug dealers will be caregivers.

This argument supposes that the state will implement Amendment 2 irresponsibly and place no restrictions on caregivers. It also ignores the most important qualification of a caregiver — that the patient chooses this person.

No one believes there should not be some additional requirements on who can be caregivers. But it is up to the Legislature and DOH to determine those requirements. I will commit now that if Amendment 2 passes, I will lobby for those restrictions and fight for them in court if someone argues that they are unconstitutional.

  1. Amendment 2 will create a new pill-mill crisis in Florida.

The DOH says that’s “unlikely.” Why? Because of a multistep process for becoming a qualified patient laid out in the text of the amendment.

The problem with pill mills was that you could walk into a doctor’s office and walk out with narcotics. That simply, unequivocally can’t occur under Amendment 2.

  1. Everyone has civil and criminal immunity under Amendment 2.

Wrong again. The court ruled on this as well. Immunity applies only to specific acts that were previously illegal: when a doctor writes the certification for medical use of marijuana; when the patient or caregiver decides that the “medical use” of marijuana is appropriate.

Anything beyond that narrow scope remains. Take any scare-tactic hypothetical and replace “marijuana” with “Xanax,” “Percocet,” or “cough medicine,” and the result is the same. Negligence is negligence.

I hope Barney now feels these “loopholes” have been properly addressed. I look forward to lobbying with him for a strict and responsible implementation of Amendment 2 during the next legislative session.

I really look forward to hundreds of thousands of Floridians getting relief from medical marijuana.

Ben Pollara is the campaign manager for United for Care and a Miami-based political consultant.

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19 Responses for “One More Time: What Opponents of Amendment 2 on Medical Pot Get Wrong”

  1. barbie says:

    Please, for the love of your fellow human beings everywhere who get much-needed bodily relief from marijuana, to deal with the ravages of chemotherapy, please, please, PLEASE vote YES on amendment two.

    It’s time to put the “reefer madness” propaganda to rest once and for all. Millions of Americans partake anyway and voting no means you’re voting to continue the current status-quo of a black market. Voting “no” doesn’t keep pot away from otherwise law-abiding adults, including those who use this plant medicinally. God put this plant here for a reason, and it’s time for us to realize the humane benefits it brings to its users.

  2. VOTEYES ON2 says:

    Thank You! I just wish there were as many articles informing people of the truth as there are articles attempting to scare us. You are doing a wonderful job Ben, keep working !

  3. I/M/O says:

    There has never been medical marijuana legislation passed in any state in this nation that has not immediately
    been compromised into nothing more than a way to legalize the possession of marijuana for every idiot who wants to abuse drugs and get high.

    It would be quite appropriate to allow qualified Doctors to prescribe marijuana to those who are very ill with such diseases that are debilitating.

    Of course those who want to “Legalize Marijuana” run their campaigns that this is for people who have diseases such as Cancer or HIV.

    But the voting population is not that stupid. They are fully aware that every time one of these medical marijuana laws is passed every ailment under the sun is then included as it’s sufferes need “Medical Marijuana.” Arthritis in your shoulder you need marijuana. Lower back pin you need marijuana. Had a wisdom tooth pulled you need marijuana. Suffer from allergies you need marijuana.

    The overwhelming majority Doctors in this nation are people with outstanding medical ethics. But every voter knows that when these Medical Marijuana Laws are passed there will be those few Doctors who have no ethics and will simply compromise this law to enrich themselves by building a clientele that simply wants a medical card to avoid arrest. Suddenly every pot smoker out there quickly learns whom these Non Ethical Doctors who see a way to enrich themselves are and they flock to those few doctors explaining their imaginary illnesses and imaginary pain to gain access to “Medical Marijuana.”

    Most voters are aware that these corrupt practices are not limited to just Medical Marijuana but society sees it in the prescribing of pother narcotic drugs that are pain killers.

    The article above mention the “Wonders marijuana use can have for those with seizure disorders.” Does Florida have a law that any person found to suffer from seizure disorders the Physician orders them to surrender their drivers license. Other states have that law. Do we want people who suffer seizures driving on our roads at 70 mph? Does Florida have a law that a person who is issued a prescription for medical marijuana his auto insurance company must be notified? Does Florida have a law that if person is issued a prescription for medical marijuana they must surrender any firearms they possess.? Does the Federal Gun Check form to purchase a firearm ask a person if they have a prescription for medical marijuana?

    If a child is issued a prescription for the use of medical marijuana can he smoke his medication on school property if they feel the need to use it? This referendum has no age restriction. What does that child do report to the Nurses Office to get his medicinal high on and then get sent back to class? Will Florida now pass laws that a child who is issued a prescription for medical marijuana have to advise his Principal or Coaches? Should they be allowed to play schhol sports?

    How about Teachers. School bus drivers. Will Confidentiality Laws cover their use of medical marijuana? How about Pilots. Boat Captains. Police Officers? Doctors? Dentists? Electricians? Heavy Equipment Operators. Will,their use be protected by HIPPA Regulations?

    Does Florida have a LAW that if you sell your prescribed marijuana to another person you are committing a crime. If you sell it to a child you commit a felony.

    Can a non resident of Florida seek prescription for medical marijuana while in Florida? If they go back to their resident state can it be mailed to them? Are their exceptions for shipping medical marijuana through the U.S. Mail, UPS, Fed Ex in place?

    IF YOU ARE ISSUED A PRESCRIPTION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA WILL YOU BE REQUIRED TO HAVE IT FILLED BY A LICENSED PHARMACISTS IN A LEGITIMATE DRUG STORE OR WILL MARIJUANA SHOPS START SPRINGING UP ALL OVER FLORIDA WITH NO LICENSED PHARMACIST PRESENT. WILL HOSPITAL PHARMACY ISSUE MARIJUANA TO PATIENTS BEING DISCHARGED.

    Will medical marijuana prescriptions be covered by Health Care Plans which have prescription drug coverage. Will Medicare, Medicaid or ObamaCare plans cover medical marijuana prescriptions. If not why not?

    Why is a prescription of medical marijuana going to have SALES TAX applied TO IT. Can anyone name one other prescription drug subject to a SALES TAX? .

    There are just to many questions as to this referendum. Is it really a referendum to provide very ill people with help in dealing with their pain from there disease or injury? OF COURSE THAT IS NOT IT’S PURPOSE.

    IT’S PURPOSE IS A BACK DOOR ATTEMPT TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA AND LEGALIZE DRUG DEALERS WHO ALL OF A SUDDEN WILL BE CONFERRED THE THE TITLE OF PHARMACISTS.

    Then we will have thousand upon thousands of people using marijuana driving on our roads.

    • Kathy says:

      Dear I/M/O,

      Let me start with…I’m not a user but have (I count 5 times over the past 25 years and I had to go way back to make that number that high). There are horrible drugs prescribed legally everyday. I’m happy to have a safer option available.

      Also, how about that alcohol…I’d rather repeal alcohol (and I do drink once/sometimes twice a week). Here is specifically why alcohol should not be so easily accessible … (unlike Reffer Maddness this is real and recent) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhQHw_P4j-4

      I will vote yes and the more I hear negative blabber about this; the darker I will color my yes oval!

    • Human says:

      I/M/O, while I understand your concerns, I think that a lot more people are having issues with gun violence these days than they are with pot smokers (see California, Colorado, and the other 21 states who’ve legalized it in some fashion). Only AZ, ME, MI, NV & RI accept patients who have access in other states.
      As for the gun argument, there is also no background check on mental illness and no one asks the purchaser of firearms if they’re alcoholics or drug addicts either. Personally, I think the availablility of firearms is far more dangerous than someone chilling out on some medicinal MJ.
      My mother suffered for 10 months with small cell carcinoma before finally dying, but during those months of chemo and having massive doses of radiation, she was absolutely skeletal, despite the massive amounts of steroids she was on. She got a feeding tube when she could no longer eat due to the debilitating nausea. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a feeding tube or had to clean one (I did, as her primary caregiver), but it was very difficult. She was only 50 years old and had been the picture of perfect health prior to that.
      As for children being prescribed marijuana, please… Google CBD (the children don’t get ‘high’) and the effects (benefits) that it can have on children with atrocious seizure disorders. Maybe they’d actually finally be able to participate in sporting activities that they previously could not.
      Of course there are grey areas when it comes to field testing sobriety and things of that nature, but if you really do your homework, I think you’ll find that MMJ is a helluva lot safer than alcohol. I’d definitely rather be on the road with a bunch of stoners than people wasted on alcohol.

    • John Smallberries says:

      Let me dissect your post for you, maybe you’ll learn something.

      “There has never been medical marijuana legislation passed in any state in this nation that has not immediately been compromised into nothing more than a way to legalize the possession of marijuana for every idiot who wants to abuse drugs and get high.”

      There has never been a prescribed drug that can be recreationally abused that hasn’t vanished from someone’s medicine cabinet, only to end up abused in someone else’s household. What’s your point?

      ” Arthritis in your shoulder you need marijuana. Lower back pin you need marijuana. Had a wisdom tooth pulled you need marijuana. Suffer from allergies you need marijuana. ”

      If cannabis was shown to alleviate these conditions, why do you care?

      ” But every voter knows that when these Medical Marijuana Laws are passed there will be those few Doctors who have no ethics and will simply compromise this law to enrich themselves by building a clientele that simply wants a medical card to avoid arrest. Suddenly every pot smoker out there quickly learns whom these Non Ethical Doctors who see a way to enrich themselves are and they flock to those few doctors explaining their imaginary illnesses and imaginary pain to gain access to “Medical Marijuana.””

      My wife’s mom habitually abuses sleep meds and painkillers, both of which she got from her doctor. The medical field sees a handful of next generation prescription painkillers enter the market every year, all of which have the potential for abuse that ends in death. There has NEVER been a demonstrated death due to cannabis consumption, though. It’s been demonstrated that places that have medical or recreational cannabis see a reduction of 25% in deaths related to painkillers.

      http://www.newsweek.com/states-medical-marijuana-painkiller-deaths-drop-25-266577

      You’re beating the wrong dead horse with a stick.

      “The article above mention the “Wonders marijuana use can have for those with seizure disorders.” Does Florida have a law that any person found to suffer from seizure disorders the Physician orders them to surrender their drivers license. Other states have that law. Do we want people who suffer seizures driving on our roads at 70 mph? Does Florida have a law that a person who is issued a prescription for medical marijuana his auto insurance company must be notified? Does Florida have a law that if person is issued a prescription for medical marijuana they must surrender any firearms they possess.? Does the Federal Gun Check form to purchase a firearm ask a person if they have a prescription for medical marijuana?”

      I know someone who suffered major brain damage and spends his time wacked out on oxy due to pain and occasionally has seizures, and yet he still drives in the great state of florida. Maybe you should contact your local senator or congressman and ask him or her why people that have seizures can do so. Here’s a hint: they can’t, legally. If they haven’t seized in many, many months they are allowed to drive, otherwise, no. And guess what? Amendment 2 doesn’t change that fact. Does florida have a law that requires people’s auto insurance company be notified if someone takes 20 hydrcodone a day for pain and still drives? No, they don’t. Maybe you should contact your local senator or congressman and ask him or her why that’s the case. Does florida require that you surrender guns if you’re a chronic alcoholic that uses IV painkillers that were prescribed legally by a doctor? No it doesn’t, and maybe you should contact your local senator or congressman and ask him or her why that’s the case. And afiak, the federal gun check form doesn’t have a box that you check if you’re going to purchase your firearm to shoot a neighbor. Maybe you should contact your local senator or congressman and ask him or her why that’s the case.

      Every single one of your complaints can be applied to the hordes of legal and devastating painkillers that are legally available through a doctor. Why do you insist on treating medically prescribed cannabis any differently?

      I will agree with you on one point, though. You shouldn’t be taxed on medical cannabis. Now, drug stores are taxed on profits, and green crosses should be taxed as well, in exactly the same manner. So congrats, your huge wall of misinformation yielded a single valid point, and I encourage people to class action the state of florida over a sales tax if it does in fact happen.

      • I/M/O says:

        John Drug Stores are not going to provide medical marijuana. Pribately owned stores are going to do that. “Pot shops.” There is no medical training provided in this referendum for the so called “Caregivers.”

        The”Caregivers” are goijg to be the pot dealers.

    • Iggy says:

      23 states and DC allow for medical marijuana. Many of those have been for over the last 5 years. Of those only 2 have gone beyond medical use to recreational use.
      As for the occupations you mentioned, should their employers know if they are taken antidepressants? Or if they belong to AA? What’s your point?

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    YES! Thousands and thousands of “mello” people driving on our roads! Which I would much prefer to those high on Jack Daniels or even beer. . . especially with a gun inside! YES! Let’s go ahead and legalize Marijuana. . . Regulate it! and Tax the hell out of it, just like alcohol! We need the added revenue for education and mental health services! Then let’s retroactively release all those incarcerated for nothing more than possession of a small amount of weed. Why, oh why can’t we learn that PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK!

    • barbie says:

      Because the prisons and the cops and the pee test industry make a lot of money off this ridiculous, cruel prohibition. They’re selling their souls–and other peoples’ health–for the almighty dollar and they are shameful.

    • ?? says:

      I agree with the regulation and taxation. The problem in this amendment is it CANNOT BE TAXED because it is ILLEGAL UNDER FEDERAL LAW. So, tell me your thoughts on how you plan on funding this regulation (the departments ‘DOH” will have to develop, pay salaries, etc.) that will be needed! Where is the money supposed to come from to fund all the materials needed for field tests for the FCSO?

  5. Seminole Pride says:

    I am looking forward to the passing of this. We need something that will slow down prescribed medication being prescribed for every medical need. It has been proven that marijuana has been successful in treating many ailments. Many of us are taking way to many medications, when a little marijuana butter on your toast in the morning will take care of you.

  6. I/M/O says:

    This referendum is not about firearms, alcohol or somebody stealing drugs out of a medicine chest. It is ALL ABOUT a backdoor attempt to legalize marijuana and thee dealers who sell marijuana.

    Now what do you think the dealers of marijuana are going to do when marijuana becomes available and their clients all get medical marijuana cards.

    Do you think they are going to go find a real job? No they won’t. They are criminals who will look to replace their product with another product and that product will be heroin and they are going to target the children in Florida schools.

    You don’t think so? Goggle search “Heroin epidemic in Long Island New York schools.” Read all about how many high school and junior high school children are dying from heroin overdoses.

    But you go right ahead and legalize the sale of medical marijuana.

  7. Bill says:

    Im voting NO not because im against pot but because I see this as a way around the law. I would vote YES if it was to legalize it or decriminalize it. To me this is just a game being played by some to make it more available. Lets just make the dam thing legal TAX it regulate it like booze.

  8. I/M/O says:

    [Warning and Corrections: The comment below is cut and pasted from another source, which is plagiarism. It is also from an entirely unreliable and deceptive news source, which is unacceptable to FlaglerLive standards. The information cut and pasted below shows why. We’re allowing it only because the study cited is likely to make the rounds of media based on these tendentious reports, rather than on the original source of the study, which tells an entirely different story. We have the original, which you can read here or here. I/M/O and similarly inclined commenters, please check your sources before using this site to spread misleading information and waste our time cleaning up your misinforming mess. In this case if you don’t want to be bothered reading the original study, you can read the King’s College summary of the study here, which provides a far more nuanced picture of marijuana’s effects, with revelations already well documented. Keep in mind as well that this study is not original research, but a summary of studies. It notes for example, citing just the first two bullet points, that while “Driving while intoxicated with cannabis doubles the risk of road traffic accidents,” driving drunk on alcohol “increased the risk of a crash 6-15 times,” and that while “Approximately 9 percent of people who have ever used cannabis become dependent,” that compares to “32 percent for nicotine, 23 percent for heroin, and 15 percent for alcohol.” It goes on to present a far different picture than the misleading article below: if marijuana users develop heart trouble, for example, it’s not because of marijuana, but because of their likelihood of being tobacco smokers as well. But the material below is an excellent example of how easily media can mislead, and how easily uncritical readers can be manipulated. Try to resist being so manipulative on FlaglerLive. We’re here to clean up bullshit, not spread more of it. Thank you.–FL]

    Breaking News October 7, 2014

    British Scientist associated with World Health Organization Says Cannabis is Highly Addictive.

    Cannabis can be highly addictive, cause mental health problems and lead to hard drug use, according to a new study by a British addiction specialist.
    The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, who is an advisor for the World Health Organisation, says that Cannabis use can have numerous harmful side-effects, including mental illness, impaired driving ability and lower educational attainment.
    Professor Hall found that it could double the risk of severe psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, that one in six teenagers and one in ten adults who regularly use it can become dependent on it, and that smoking it during pregnancy can reduce the baby’s weight.
    The Daily Mail quotes Professor Hall as dismissing those who claim the drug is harmless: “If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol.”
    “It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin – we just don’t know how to do it.”
    He added that those who try to stop taking the drug can often suffer anxiety, lower appetite, depression and insomnia, and less than half of people who stop taking it can stay off it for six months.
    Professor Hall writes: “The important point I am trying to make is that people can get into difficulties with cannabis use, particularly if they get into daily use over a long period.
    “There is no doubt that heavy users experience a withdrawal syndrome as with alcohol and heroin.
    “Rates of recovery from cannabis dependence among those seeking treatment are similar to those for alcohol.”
    Mark Winstanley, of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, told the Mail: “Too often cannabis is wrongly seen as a safe drug, but as this review shows, there is a clear link with psychosis and schizophrenia, especially for teenagers.
    “The common view that smoking cannabis is nothing to get worked up about needs to be challenged more effectively.
    “Instead of classifying and re-classifying, government time and money would be much better spent on educating young people about how smoking cannabis is essentially playing a very real game of Russian roulette with your mental health.”

    • barbie says:

      About time you caught onto the fact that you’re being spammed by propagandists over this subject. Too bad you couldn’t have caught it sooner, you’ve been had for a while now.

      Maybe you should do a better job moderating your comments–start worrying less about “presenting both sides” and worry more about verifying the sources of the people who use comment sections on news sites to push propaganda and lies.

    • John Smallberries says:

      Ahahaha it’s a Daily Mail article. For those of you that aren’t aware of who the Daily Mail is, here are a few classic headlines:

      “Women become good cooks at the age of 55 – that is when they can cook a roast, rescue a meal… and FINALLY boil an egg”

      “Big headed babies ‘more prone to cancer'”

      “Why women become LESS bitchy as they get older (and yes, it’s to do with men)”

      “How a romantic candle-lit dinner can give you cancer”

      In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the Daily Mail has less journalistic integrity than a flaccid penis. It’s a terrible paper, and really if you’re turning to it for SHOCKING INFORMATION ABOUT THE EVILS OF MARIJUANA USE then you may as well just start making stuff up and post it as fact, because that’s basically what they do.

  9. Pain in my Ask says:

    I’m sick and tired of other people telling me what I can and can not take to relieve my pain. If I want to take strong pain meds…..I will and to hell with the government over site or the local Barney Fife Sheriff who thinks he can make that decision. Until they BAN alcohol in this country, I WILL NOT obey any idiot who thinks he/she knows my pain and what I have to go thru. I’m voting YES !!!

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