Amendment 2 Foes Aim to Attack the Language, Not the Product

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: June 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Medical Marijuana
Opponents of Amendment 2 are showing their cards on how they intend to fight the medical marijuana proposal Floridians will be voting on in November. The anti-Amendment 2 forces aren’t taking on medical marijuana; instead, they’re focusing their fire on the vague language in the amendment, hoping to defeat it on the edges. 

Polls have constantly shown Amendment 2 qualifies for the threshold of passing with more than 60 percent of voters saying they plan to back it. But support for the amendment drops when some of its underbelly is exposed, including nothing specific about age requirements or mandating criminal background checks for caretakers.

Drug Free Florida and other opponents of Amendment 2 have been taking notes. They’re arguing the amendment has too many loopholes and have trotted out the recent pill mill epidemic as an example of what can happen when there is little oversight on doctors. Expect to hear quite a bit in the next few months on how Amendment 2 doesn’t specify where medical marijuana facilities can open, with opponents playing up fears they could end up next to schools or playgrounds.

It’s an interesting strategy and one that could appeal to some conservatives and Republicans. There’s already more than a little suspicion of Amendment 2 from the GOP -- especially as its chief proponent, John Morgan, is a Democratic fundraiser and is Charlie Crist’s boss, after all -- as a ploy to get younger voters to come out in November. Remember, voters over 30 in Florida went for Mitt Romney by 5 percent. Those under 30 broke for Barack Obama by 36 percent. Without a solid turnout from young voters, Democrats have little chance in Florida.

But opponents of Amendment 2 aren’t going all out against medical marijuana, nor should they. It’s a losing argument, as polls constantly show. Florida voters of all races and ages are behind it. Even Republicans back medical marijuana according to most polls, though not by the same margins as Democrats or independents. Florida voters clearly are behind medical marijuana.

Groups like Drug Free Florida and the Florida Sheriffs Association and other opponents of Amendment 2 get this. They don’t intend to directly stab Amendment 2 by arguing against medical marijuana. Instead, they are looking to kill it with a thousand cuts by slashing away at the various weak spots in it. Opponents of the amendment are going to portray themselves as open to medical marijuana, just not this proposal. The Charlotte’s Web bill passed by the Legislature and signed last week by Rick Scott gives them a bit of room to maneuver against Amendment 2.

Of course, opponents of the amendment could be setting themselves up for trouble down the road. Even if it fails, medical marijuana won’t go away. With the amount of support for the product in Florida, there will be other proposals, certainly with more clarity, coming along.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (21)

5:47AM OCT 18TH 2014
We are in the middle of debate over the language of amendment 2 and not the purpose it offers.
Sure, Charlotte's web does offer a valuable medical help! but that is for a small group only, not the thousands who suffer everyday due to a long list of ailments.

I believe the debate should not be over who looses their power over how the sick should be treated in Florida. They all say "follow the money" how about a closer look at those who financially benefit over insane laws that force good people to go to back alleys to purchase medicine that simply comes from a plant!
Where is the compassion we all have for those in needs.

Tallahassee would rather let anyone walk into a flea market and with nothing more then a Florida drivers license purchase a gun. Yet they want to debate the words in a law that will help a cancer patient get thr more day of life without gut wrenching pain before they succumb to the ravages of illness that will take them forever. I sincerely pray to God that the haters like the Grady Judd and money grabbers in Tallahassee who we all know are in the pockets of big business someday wake up to find someone they love begging to release them from the pain of Chemo Therapy or MS and that they have to go to a back alley for help.
12:08PM JUN 26TH 2014
Of course the anti- MM crowd is going to chip away at the "edges" -that's the only way they can attempt to defeat an Amendment that the majority of Floridian voters support. Those fighting against legalization are akin to the temperance group of not-so-long ago. (wonder when the bats will appear). Prohibition failed then, it will fail now.
The government has recognized and identified the myriad medical conditions in which MJ has proven effective. One would think that given their own research, they couldn't plausibly deny their own words-but they do. Contradictory, to say the least. As for attacking the language of the amendment, that's already been attempted. Recall Weatherford, Gaetz, Bondi, et. al. tried to convince the Fl. Supreme Court that the language in the bill was "too confusing with too many loopholes" for the ordinary Florida voter to understand. I don't know how most of you feel, but, I personally, am highly offended at the stated-NOT implied-notion that I am far too ignorant to understand the written language. The Court agreed that the language was NOT too broad, that it clearly spelled out the limitations, and that the who's, why's, when's, where's were indeed clearly specified in the wording. T Amendment 2 itself was carefully and thoughtfully crafted by those who anticipated the very arguments that did, indeed, arise. Also don't forget that for this proposal to even ARRIVE to the Amendment stage -where the people could be allowed to vote their preferences- it had to receive the signatures of thousands of registered and VERIFIED voters -in which it not only succeeded but EXCEEDED the required number .
Any hypothetical situations/comparisons are patently ridiculous and do not apply; this is a straight-forward Amendment to allow people to use a medication that has a proven efficacy in several medical diseases/conditions. Any comparison to the proliferation of the "pill mills" is extraneous. The argument can be made that these pill mills would not have reached the number they did OR the harm they caused had LEGAL medical marijuana been available. Many of those who abused prescription drugs did so because the addictive painkillers ceased to afford relief. Contrary to claims made by opponents, marijuana is not addictive, it is NOT a gateway drug, and, unlike the opioids like heroin , has never been implicated in or caused a death. One could just as easily apply "hypothetical" scenarios, such as the car crash mentioned, to any/every issue that has one or more groups of people opposing or supporting it. The example used -the car crash in which all was lost, is a fairy tale; such a scenario could/would never occur. But, worded as it was, it sounded reasonable, did it not? Of course, such a statement has absolutely no basis in fact or reality. In fact, alcohol, a legal drug, causes more car accidents and misery than marijuana ever has.
Those opposing Amendment 2 know full well the cannot dispute fact; instead, they are relying on innuendo, false information, (if such can be called that) and outright untruths. They're betting that most people have not read the Amendment and are basing their votes on their deliberately incorrect hearsay and what has been reported in the media- all depends on where one lives and what type media is one's primary source. Opponents of legalization of MM are spending millions on spreading that hearsay-truth be damned.The SOLE reason that the Gaetz' and other Repubs back-tracked on their prior positions was not, regardless of their tearful dog and pony show, due to empathy for the children suffering from seizure disorders; the Charlotte's Web bill was hastily constructed and passed in an attempt to blunt the vote from this Amendment. A side effect gave the Legislators cover; after they passed this bill, no one could accuse them of being indifferent to the plight of children suffering and dying from seizures which a single strain of MM had proven to alleviate. Once the politicians actually realized that a large majority (60-80%) of Floridians in BOTH parties supported legalization, they had no recourse. Hence, the swift passage of a watered-down bill that allows a small percentage of the population to benefit. There are thousands more who could-and, I hope, will be able to ameliorate their pain and suffering if Amendment 2 passes.
Those opposing legalization are not doing so from concern about the safety and/or proliferation of the "stoned folks" running around and offending their delicate sensibilities; rather, this opposition is due to the profits that stand to be lost. How much money flows into the coffers of the Sheriff's Associations, the private prison industry, the drug testing industry-plus many more. Big Pharma will lose out when the high-dollar drugs they make and sell are supplanted by a cheaper alternative. I would also mention the fact that many of these very interests are involved in funding politicians and those politicians have a vested interest in many of these companies. Follow the $$$-don't allow these people to dupe you into believing they oppose MM for altruistic reasons. They oppose MM due to their wallets shrinking if Amendment 2 becomes law.
Before you vote, I would urge all to at least research the issue-get facts, not hype. The government patent for marijuana and the conditions for which it proved efficacious is easy to find. As another mentioned, Google "US Government Marijuana Patent" ;I think most will be surprised and possibly shocked to learn exactly what our own government has learned, when they learned it, and what they then did to keep the public from the discovery. Hence the Patent granting the US Government sole access to any use and/or research of this drug.Don't swallow the opposition's line whole without knowing what you are eating. Facts trump fallacy-or should. Who stands to gain/lose from the passage or defeat of this bill?
For our own government and special interest groups to deny people in pain a safe, effective and inexpensive alternative to addictive opioids is deplorable. For these entities to do so for reasons of profit is criminal.
Where are the voices of sane, reasonable, compassionate people? I sincerely hope that they will actually make the effort to go to the polls and vote YES on Amendment 2. It is the only right thing to do. It is the ONLY way medical marijuana will become legally available to those who desperately need it.
12:51PM JUN 23RD 2014
I wonder if these opponents to Amend 2 really do not understand the process of adopting a constitutional amendment as a principle then writing statutes and rules to implement the amendment, or do they understand but just don’t care about truth.

This country is in the sad state it is in right now, with such strong divisiveness and unwillingness to compromise to do good things for the country because of the phenomenon of people, including prominent politicians, to just flat out lie very publicly to support their cause. Then all they need is unlimited financing from corporations and churches to fund proliferation of the lies. Rather contradictory to the claims we are a Christian nation.
1:21PM JUN 23RD 2014
Spot on Diane
11:06AM JUN 23RD 2014
C Breeze's hypothetical car crash is no doubt the result of alcohol combined with prescription drugs. A very good argument for full legalization of pot, not just medical.
C Breeze
11:34AM JUN 23RD 2014
Ahhh "Stripe",...I NOW understand your personal prognosis dilemma...
Obamacare must seem "heaven sent" to you; Put down that remote, get out of the apartment and into the fresh air...quickly !
12:52PM JUN 23RD 2014
I would suggest that you pick up that remote and change the channel to anything but Fox.
11:01AM JUN 23RD 2014
The FDA continues to say that marijuana has no medical value, while the US govt (HHS) has held patent no. 6,630,507 on the unique medical properties of marijuana for over 10 years, google it and see. The FDA works for the real drug cartels (big pharma). 22 states + DC have medical marijuana, and NY is coming on board any day, and there hasn't been any rash of stoned driver incidents or we would have heard about it (magnified 100000 times, of course). Certainly marijuana is a safer, cheaper alternative to high-priced legal pain pills (so expensive that users are switching to heroin). By the way, acetaminophen (Tylenol) kills 400 people per year and sends 40,000 to the hospital. Properly prescribed prescription drugs kill over 100,000 per year. Thanks, FDA!
But god forbid anyone should enjoy themselves and feel better, too--without paying America's drug cartels.
C Breeze
10:55AM JUN 23RD 2014
JUST SAY NO ! One hypothetical: You loan Junior your car; he acquires some "medical" marijuana from his friend's Mama's "stash"; You and the missus go out for dinner with a neighbor couple and become involved in an accident; Police find a bag of Junior's recently acquired "stash" that has slid out from under the car seat; EVERYBODY in the car at the time of the accident denies 'ownership'; ALL occupants are charged with illegal possession; Car is seized as evidence; Trial convicts ALL occupants; Major attorney fees; Worst case scenario - house & car seized under RICO statutes; Family homeless and Junior can't afford college and so becomes drug dealer; Dad loses job; Mom turns to prostitution. Junior's friend's Mama renews medical marijuana prescription; Life goes on...sort of... ("Are there no prisons, are there no poor-houses ?" Charles Dickens)... (All these things may well be in YOUR future...) JUST SAY NO !
12:55PM JUN 26TH 2014
This is,as I earlier stated, yet another specious argument that harbors absolutely no relation to reality. This is a ridiculous tautology of a fictitious car crash leading to poverty, drug abuse,homelessness and prostitution . Such fantasies are neither productive nor informative-they are merely, as you state, hypothetical with no expectations of occurrence.
12:29PM JUN 23RD 2014
Say, Nancy, how's that "Just Say NO" working out for you? For the country? You happy that many lives have been ruined with long prison sentences for pot? That drug supplies have made billions and killed thousands who got in their way? Oh, well Nancy is gone but look what she did for her country.
12:24PM JUN 23RD 2014
Say, Nancy, how's that "Just Say NO" working out for you? For the country? You happy that many lives have been ruined with long prison sentences for pot? That drug supplies have made billions and killed thousands who got in their way? Oh, well Nancy is gone but look what she did for her country.
12:16PM JUN 23RD 2014
Really. How about some truth. Junior goes to 1 of his many hometown drug dealers. Buys pot. Happens everyday. No ID or perscription required. Another fact. In Florida a Doctor must have Parental permission to write a minor a script. Another fact. You are slinging as much BS as any of the anti-MM folks. You must be a paid advocate.
Dan Walsh
10:47AM JUN 23RD 2014
In reviewing all the evidence that shows medical marijuana does have many benefits in helping people with health issues... what would be a legitimate reason in not legalizing it ? I am not a pot-head and have not smoked a joint since 1981.. yet I have no problem passing a law that might save one from suffering. Does that make sense ?
C Breeze
11:01AM JUN 23RD 2014
...only makes sense if you are a supporter of Obamacare,..which ALSO, while suspending reason & common-sense, claims to "save people from suffering..".
12:09PM JUN 23RD 2014
So you want what you see as goverment intrusion out of your healthcare but are good to go as long as they are intruding into someone elses healthcare. Only your rights are worthy of protection? That makes you a hypocrit!
Sheldon Adelson's Wallet
8:22AM JUN 23RD 2014
"RepublicanConscience" must be fine with drug cartels and police working together as well as moronic strawman arguments. Ooooh, the "slippery slope" from some that likely favored the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Where was your so-called concern then?
7:41AM JUN 23RD 2014
I'm against it so however it is defeated is fine with me. What's next? Medical Crack? Group Bong therapy? It is a slippery slope once you go there there is no way back.

Is there a difference if you drive under the influence of Medical Marijuana and kill someone or driving under illegal marijuana? How about revoking the driver's license of anyone using prescription marijuana as a condition?
12:40PM JUN 26TH 2014
One could easily apply your statement to revoke and/or restrict driving privileges from the millions who take prescription medication for any condition. Don't you read the warning labels on all medications ? This is yet another specious argument which has no basis in fact. Conjecture of this kind is a waste of time. One can deny anything to anyone using this type of misdirection. The "What IF's " are certainly not a reliable predictor of the consequences of use of any medication. Moreover, the phrase, "slippery slope" has lost any kind of relevancy; it has been applied to everything so often that it has become a meme. Your fears of "medical crack or group bong therapy" is laughable. You know as well as everyone that such a proposition would never come to pass.
I would question you, however-just what ARE your reasons for opposing the legal use of medical marijuana? You give no reason other than 'you are against it". Why? Since you cite the "slippery slope of no return",why then would you not oppose the use of the many prescription opioids and other medications that carry such dire warnings (much more than marijuana, btw) ? Prescription drugs carry more danger of being abused than marijuana . Does the fact that these drugs are legal automatically confer upon them some kind of magical approval? I would ask you, also-how much do you know about the uses of MM and its history of governmental interference? Are you aware that the plant itself has been used for thousands of years for medicinal use-including the US-prior to the "Reefer Madness" propaganda that was dreamed up and promoted by the government after Prohibition ended?
As an aside-I would like to know what possible relationship exists between the ACA and legalizing medical marijuana ?
7:54AM JUN 23RD 2014
You are so funny RC. You really believe the end justifies the means? That lies and deceit are OK when making a political argument? Next. Why not take away the right to drive for anybody who takes a perscription? Many legal drugs cause accidents. Not to mention the damage booze does. Do you take any scripts with warnings? Next. I would bet you were against obamacare and see it as goverment intrusion into your healthcare, yet, you want goverment to intrude into mine. From my perspective you seem a bit hypocritical.
6:51AM JUN 23RD 2014
The Amendment clearly calls for the State to write the regulations. It just defines the product, term and conditions, which yes could include pain If a Doctor perscribes it. The state will regulate the growers, sellers and caregivers. All of the statements by the anti-MM people are lies since they seem to deny that any regulations will be written. Does anybody believe that the republicants in Tally will go easy on those regulations? They will probably be as restrictive as they can, example, the current Charlottes Web law. I ask that everybody Vote YES on Amendment 2 and make all strains of Medical Marijuana legal in Florida. Let us quit locking up and stripping rights from patients. Thank You

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