In November, Florida voters will decide whether the state will join nearly two dozen others in legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes
Amendment 2, a grassroots initiative - no pun intended - came to the ballot the hard way, through petition and the collection of more than 683,971 signatures from people throughout the state.
Since then, polls report that a vast majority of residents - 70-plus percent - support the legalization of the drug for "individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician."
We are among them.
Let us be clear on our position:
Drug abuse is a scourge, the plague of the 21st century. Misuse costs lives. Absolutely.
But for the vast majority of users - and we stress the word "majority" here - properly administered and regulated drugs save lives and maintain quality of life.
- For patients with cancer.
- AIDS or HIV.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
- Crohn's disease.
- Seizure disorders.
The list of those who could benefit from medical marijuana is long and standing between these people and what their physicians may choose to prescribe is wrong.
Especially since approval of Amendment 2 would allow doctors to decide whether medical marijuana would be less harmful, or more beneficial, than the array of drugs already legally prescribed that are now the only options available.
Arguments against Amendment 2 tend to center more on criticism of the ballot language and anti-pot rhetoric than the medical debate.
Let us clarify:
- The use of medical marijuana would require physician approval, specifically a "... medically written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient."
- Passage of the amendment places implementation first with the Department of Health, which will "issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients..." The agency would have six months to promulgate rules and regulations, including patient identification cards, physician certifications and the registration of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.
- Final implementation authority would lie with the Florida Legislature, which would approve any and all specifics.
That's a pretty well-defined process with built-in safeguards.
Meaning, no one is going to open a pot shop next door to a school; no one is going to authorize handing kids a wink-wink "prescription;" and no one is going to start a legal grow house next door.
Vote YES on Amendment 2.
Florida's sick and injured deserve our vote.
BALLOT TITLE: Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions
BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases 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 authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.
Our recommendation: Vote YES on Amendment 2