Amendment 2 Foes Aim to Attack the Language, Not the Product
Around the State
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.