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Guest Editorial: Let those who can benefit from medical marijuana do so

  • Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, looks at some of the cannabis plants at a growing facility. Studies have shown empirical evidence that marijuana helped ease symptoms of pain in a significant and suffering segment of society. AP PHOTO


THE NORTHWEST FLORIDA DAILY NEWS
Thursday, June 14, 2018

A constitutional amendment, in its purest form, allows the voice of the people to rise above — and override — the partisan bickering of politics and endless red tape of state bureaucracy. It’s power to the people, pure and simple.

So why doesn’t it work?

Two full years ago, Floridians spoke both loud and clear on Amendment 2: Medical Marijuana. Pundits thought the issue was a toss-up on that 2016 ballot initiative. It takes 60 percent of registered voters to pass a constitutional amendment.

Pundits were wrong.

The amendment supporting the legalization of medical marijuana steamrolled the opposition statewide with 71.3 percent of the vote. Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties were in line with that number at a combined 71.2 percent.

So why isn’t it working?

Here is all we need to show exactly what the will of the voters was on that Tuesday in November 2016, the ballot summary:

“Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions 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 immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.”

That’s it.

Voters were not unleashing widespread abuse of devil weed. And there was clear, empirical evidence that marijuana helped ease symptoms of pain in a significant and suffering segment of society.

Since 2016, the issue has met with a fate too familiar to us all when Tallahassee sticks its snout into meaningful medicine. Caveats abound, driven by campaign contributions and backroom deals.

The main thrust of the smokescreen meant to talk the issue to death, is the difference between pot that’s “taken” and pot that’s “smoked.”

What difference does it make? If marijuana is medically legal — and we said it was — who cares how it’s delivered?

Just last week, a Leon County circuit judge ruled that smokable marijuana is allowed under wording of the 2016 amendment.

Not surprisingly, the Florida Department of Health immediately appealed the ruling. Plaintiffs in the original ruling are asking Judge Karen Gievers to clear the way for her ruling to take effect — now.

None of this would be necessary, had the Legislature not hedged its campaign finance bets, passing a law in the spring that barred patients from “smoking” medical marijuana. Read that, they passed a law overturning what Amendment 2 clearly stated and voters clearly upheld.

Their reasoning? Smoking can cause health problems. How seriously would the potential effects a decade down the road be to patients currently suffering with Lou Gehrig’s Disease or HIV?

Isn’t it time to drop the charade and let those who can benefit do so?


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