Amendment 2 on Medical Marijuana Gets More Support and Opposition

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: September 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Medical Marijuana
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, LEAP’s 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 “Charlotte’s 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

Comments (11)

Michael Swannick
1:05PM SEP 19TH 2014
Hi Everyone,

As a former New York State Law Enforcement Sergeant and sick 9/11 First Responder, I'd like to explain why myself and many other sick Floridians need the passage of amendment 2 come Nov. 4th.

My Medical Conditions: Renal Cell Carcinoma - Right Nephrectomy, Papillary Cancer - Thyroidectomy, C.O.P.D., Asthma, Bronchitis, Bronchiectasis, Atelectasis, Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome, Severe Sleep Apnea, Growing Lung Nodules, Right Temporal Brain Lesion, GERD, Pre Barrett's - Severe Dysplasia, Degenerative Spinal Disease, Sinusitis, Rhinitis, unexplainable weight loss of 50+ pounds and RLS.

I wasn't always pro (Legalization of Medical Marijuana) Amendment 2. It wasn't until the pain medication that I was prescribed starting making me sick, that's when I decided to do some research and experiment with marijuana. When I found a 40% - 60% reduction in back pain, my RLS was 100% relieved and I had my appetite back (my weight loss has stabilized) with no stomach issues, that's when I was convinced that medical marijuana was/is the correct course of treatment for my medical conditions. My quality of life has been increased dramatically, thanks to Marijuana.

Prior to my experiments the only experience I had with marijuana was when I was a teen, I just couldn't envision how patients were going to benefit by using this medication. But, I was basing my assumption on my past use when I was a kid, I wasn't sick back then, I was a vibrant kid who felt great.

I had no idea just how superior marijuana was/is over opiate medication. With one kidney, I need to be very careful when taking Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine and all the other dangerous, addictive pain medication that physicians are allowed to prescribe to patients. I don't want to destroy my remaining kidney and end up on dialysis, aside from that... My stomach is shot from all the medications I've had to take over the years, as well as all the steroids and GERD. My stomach will no longer tolerate these medications, I get sick within 15 minutes and then my stomach is shot for the rest of the day. I'm out of options, If physicians can prescribe dangerous opiate medication, I cannot find any logical reason why they should not be permitted to prescribe a less harmful medication like marijuana. ALL medical treatment options should be between patients and their physicians, politicians and/or the law should have no business interfering with "ANY" treatment options that are available.
11:14AM SEP 4TH 2014
If you don't vote, this amendment will fail! Support is not expressing your opinion. Support is voting! Anything short of your vote is meaningless.
11:06AM SEP 4TH 2014
Since there is a bill that was passed and signed into law here in FL that legalized the medicinal use of marijuana, this amendment sounds more like a "bait and switch"...we want medical marijuana (wink, wink,) but we really plan to use the wording in the amendment to get marijuana legal for anyone, as long as you at least have a headache or fatigue! I saw the video of Morgan ranting to a highly charged group. What a foul-mouthed rant! And the group was calling for cocaine! Vote NO on amendment 2. Use the laws we already have for medical marijuana use in Florida or come up with a better law....there is no need for a constitutional amendment for using marijuana...unless maybe you are looking to use it across the board, like Colorado. They aren't allowed to smoke in public or let minors use it, yet we have seen in numerous videos that folks are sitting out in parks, partying with their joints and passing them on to the kids. Come on, we are not stupid!
2:53PM SEP 4TH 2014
The so-called "bait and switch" was the Charlotte's Web bill that was hastily constructed and passed by the Legislature. The SOLE reason that certain lawmakers-led by Papa and Baby Gaetz , Weatherford, et al, was to attempt to blunt the approval for a more comprehensive bill that would place the legalization of MEDICAL MARIJUANA before the voters. Both Gaetz' had previously voiced their continued opposition to any legalization prior to the groundswell of public support. They then held tearful press conferences in which their "minds and hearts were influenced" by the suffering of the children with a particular seizure disorder. Gaetz, Sr., later confessed that in the past, he had procured marijuana for a friend who was going through a course of painful and debilitating chemotherapy-and, "after all, I could do no less for my friend, even though it was illegal, it was the only substance that afforded him some measure of relief". Hypocritical? Of course it is!
None of the arguments voiced by the opposition have any validity; every one of their allegations has been disproved.
Those currently spreading mis/disinformation about Amendment 2 are doing so to try to confuse the voters who have not educated themselves about either the language of this bill or the ramifications of its passage. The Florida Supreme Court, in response to Bondi's lawsuit claiming that the bill was too broad, contained too many loopholes, and most insultingly, too "..confusing for the average Floridian to understand", was deemed without merit and allowed to be placed on the ballot as written. This bill, contrary to misconceptions and downright lies, is NOT an excuse to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The bill clearly states that the use of marijuana must be prescribed by a physician-for specific conditions that are clearly enumerated. Just as we now have insurance companies playing doctor, we now witness some (Republicans, for the most part) in the Florida Legislature, helped by outside groups, attempting to defeat this bill in spite of the wishes of the people in this State. They, too, are not doctors, but are playing them in Tallahassee.
Most opposition stems from those who stand to lose a great deal of money and/or jobs; the Sheriff's organization, the DEA, the private prison industry, the drug-testing facilities, Big Pharma-just to name a few. Many of our lawmakers also have vested interests in these pursuits.
I, also, watched the interview with Mr. Morgan. I heard nothing condoning cocaine use. His audience was comprised of mostly college age people-he tailored his remarks TO them as voters. As would any politician who wished to address a likely voting bloc.
Grady Judd is the primary voice for one of the law enforcement associations who are opposing Amendment 2; in the past 2 weeks, several other reputable law enforcement organizations-in the State of Florida- have publicly proclaimed their support for Amendment 2 and their rebuttal of Sheriff Judd's specious arguments. None of Judd's statements have basis in fact. Each statement made by Judd-that crime rates and traffic accidents increased, the use/abuse of other drugs has increased, that deaths and addiction rates due to marijuana use- are all attributable to legalization of MMJ in other States - is not only untrue, but has been proven to be the opposite of his claims.
Although some in the AMA have come out against legalization, many other physician organizations and many in the AMA have stated they are IN favor of legalization. Those physicians supporting legalization make clear that that the AMA Board is comprised of only a few members and that these Board Members do not speak for all.These statements, of course, do not receive the media recognition or even acknowledgement by the opposition. The efficacy of marijuana in medical applications is proven. Although the FDA ,the DEA, and the DoJ attempt to deny these benefits and continue to classify marijuana as a drug more dangerous and addictive than heroin or cocaine, scientific research belies such claims . The US GOVERNMENT holds the patents to and for the medical use of and research for marijuana and its components. Among the admitted proven medical benefits are those including, but not limited to, medical efficacy in areas concerning the neuroprotectant and autoimmune systems, epilepsy, nausea, pain control, and others .

The patent number is US Patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” (sic) which is assigned to The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The patent states that -“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants,(sic) for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. "
This patent was obtained in October of 2003.

One has to wonder just why our government, after these admissions, continue to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug-as addictive and dangerous as heroin. MJ is not addictive nor is a gateway drug. Why is our government continuing to spread the ridiculous allegations attributed to MJ use in the infamous government-produced film, "Reefer Madness? And why, contrary to the government scientists' conclusions to the contrary, do they continue to insist that marijuana "has no known medical applications and efficacy"?
For those such as Sherryl, I would respectfully suggest that they conduct a bit more research before making such broad, unsupported and erroneous statements. The information is readily available-merely perform a Google search on government research on marijuana.Those who have disseminated this type of information, that is confusing so many about the true purpose of legalizing MMJ, are doing so for their own reasons-none of which are made public. Follow the money and most can easily discover who, why, and where.
This is a long post-however, it also contains much information. I hope people will take the time to read it.
5:19PM SEP 4TH 2014
Well said!
11:19AM SEP 4TH 2014
Charlottes Web was the bait and switch. Lawmakers only passed it when they realized Amendment 2 was going to be on the ballot. Just so uninformed folks like you would be confused. It only allows for the use for cancer and seizure Patients, of low THC high CBD varients. No use for pain, or the many other uses. I am a patient seeking a safer alternative to the highly addictive, dangerous narcotics I am currently limited to by Florida law. Please educate yourselves. Please Vote YES on 2. For The Patients! Thank you
John G. Chase
12:16PM OCT 27TH 2014
Sanjay Gupta sent the FL legislature into panic mode with his WeedI documentary in August 2013. That video of Charlotte Figi's seizures did it. Then Dr. Gupta did Weed II early this year to press for the entourage effects (the synergistic effects) of the whole plant, as found by Israeli researchers.

We can't be sure what conditions Charlotte's web pot will help because it has been used only on Charlotte and other kids like her. But we do know the effect of the whole plant because it has been used for CENTURIES. In California 5% of the population has MMJ cards. In FL 5% is almost one million patients. I'll trust them long before I'll trust tests funded by BigPharma and spoon-fed to the FDA for approval.
8:25AM SEP 4TH 2014
Funny, there's a doctor talking against Medical Marijuana now over the radio. She is so 1960 but is so negative about Medical marijuana food items. She claims she is a doctor but the more I hear her she sounds like a know it all that is so over the top. She needs a a few tokes to slow her down and chill out, Jessica Spencer is her name. The sky is falling, holy cow we still have people out here like that. Finally she's gone, pesky women. Bet she will be at the bar all day sucking down everything she can then drive home. Vote Yes on 2, even if it's not for you.
9:21AM SEP 4TH 2014
Jessica is also active on facebook. She is a typical naysayer with no compassion, pushing the half-truths that all of the No on 2 crowd push. Then when somebody confronts her with facts, she blocks them and continues to disparage them and put them down. Interesting though as she never claimed to be a doctor and her fb profile did not reflect that bit of information, at least not the 1 I saw, before she blocked me. Most of the No crowd is abusing fb policies and blocking anybody with the courage to challenge their propaganda. Whatever happened to Freedom Of Speech? Some of that crowd believe in only their rights. Yes on 2. For The Patients!
6:53AM SEP 4TH 2014
It seems even the nay sayers think marijuana is medicine, as long as it is their strain. In the meantime, the nay sayers are lying, using half-truths as facts and outright propaganda. I am a patient seeking a safer alternative to the legal, yet addictive and dangerous narcotics I am currently limited to by Florida law. Please Vote YES on 2. For The Patients! Thank you
Hugh Yonn
6:29AM SEP 4TH 2014
To argue against cannabis is futile...
Only those who benefit from its criminalization still try...

It's a plant...just like lettuce and tomatoes...

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