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Politics

Amendment 2 on Medical Marijuana Gets More Support and Opposition

September 2, 2014 - 6:00pm
Amendment 2, a proposed state constitutional amendment expanding the use of medical marijuana in Florida, continues to draw supporters and opponents as the Sunshine State heads into the general election.

The proposal has won the support of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of more than 150,000 supporters across the nation. LEAP came out strongly behind Amendment 2 and pushed back against criticism of the proposal from the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA).

Voters deserve to know that many of us in law enforcement do not wish to stand between them and their doctors when it comes to marijuana, said Neill Franklin, the executive director of LEAP, on Wednesday. Franklin served 34 years in law enforcement in Maryland, rising to the rank of major and working for the state police and the Baltimore Police Department.

It is a waste of taxpayer dollars to make suffering people risk arrest, a criminal record, physical danger and even poisoning on the illicit market, Franklin said. Like any other medicine their doctors recommend, they should be able to obtain quality medical marijuana in a safe, lawful marketplace where the proceeds are not going to benefit criminal gangs and drug cartels.

Noting some media reports have hit the FSA for going overboard in attacking Amendment 2, Franklin said his group would fight their claims.

As these newspapers point out, the sheriffs fear-mongering claims are nonsense: repeated studies over many years in states that permit medicinal marijuana have found no evidence of increased teen usage, no increase in crime -- and an actual reduction in the number of traffic fatalities, said Franklin. In the face of a desperate fear campaign, LEAPs members will continue to serve the people of Florida as a truth squad that will respond to the wild misstatements and distortions about Amendment 2.

But the proposed amendment continues to draw opposition, including from the social and religious conservative group Florida Family Action (FFA). On Tuesday, the FFA announced it would hold a conference call next week with experts tackling Amendment 2 which the group defined as a constitutional amendment to legalize pot in our state." Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, the president of the Brevard County Medical Society and the wife of former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, will be speaking on the call. So will attorney Susan Kelsey and Tre' Evers, from the Vote No on 2 Campaign.

The ballot summary is very deceptive as it states initially it is for debilitating diseases but the actual language that goes into the Florida Constitution and supposedly enforced says pot can be dispensed for any other conditions, read here: any pain, discomfort, cramps, fatigue, etc.," the FFA insisted on Tuesday before backing the Charlottes Web" bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year. There is currently a bill which passed out of the Legislature and is now law which allows for the legitimate use of a non-euphoric strain of this drug that is not smoked and is used for treating painful seizures in children and other truly debilitating diseases, so this amendment is not needed for medical uses.

For Amendment 2 to be adopted, 60 percent of voters have to support it on the November ballot.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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