As November approaches, sheriffs and medical doctors all over the state have been coming out strongly against Florida Constitutional Amendment 2 that would establish medical marijuana in Florida.
Dr. Alan B. Pillersdorf, president of The Florida Medical Association that represents 20,000 physicians in the state announced “Providing compassionate care to our patients is something we do everyday. We believe the untended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians”
The FMA’s House of Delegates voted unanimously to oppose Amendment to at its July conference. This organization represents 20,000 physicians in Florida.
He also stated, “The lack of clear definitions in the amendment would allow healthcare providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances, to order medical marijuana.”
What exactly is the scene in other states where “medical” marijuana has been legal for some time?
WFTV’s Eyewitness News anchor Greg Warmoth went out to Venice Beach, Ca. to see how easy it is to get a doctor’s approval for medical marijuana. Venice Beach is a top tourist area, second only to Disneyland, and has some similarities to the resort beaches of Florida.
The reporter discovered that simply telling a doctor you have problems sleeping can help you secure a prescription for pot.
“Visitors to Venice Beach are encouraged – by salespeople – to get their prescriptions right there alongside the boardwalk. The Marijuana cannot be sold at the Doctor’s office but you are directed there with even a card for a “free joint” or “free edible”.
Medical marijuana is being broadly dispensed for a list of around 198 ailments including back pain and lack of sleep. In his article he reported seeing teens and young adults with no visible signs of illness picking up a license to buy pot at the many dispensaries found up and down the boardwalk.
One man told Greg, “Fill out a couple of forms with your address and ID and sit down with a doctor. Tell them your ailments, and if the doctor deems that the medicine will be beneficial to you, she signs a piece of paper and you’re out in a half hour, and you’re all legal.”
The reporter spoke to three men who appeared to be in their 20s, walking away with their marijuana cards.
“But what was your medical reason?” Greg asked.
“I told them I can’t sleep at night,” the patient said.
“You just told them you can’t sleep?”
A group of teens also bragged about how easy it was to get weed.
“What kind of problem?” Greg asked.
“Legs. Can’t sleep. My legs hurt. I said, ‘My legs hurt,'” one of the teenagers said.
When Greg went in to get his own card he was told to say that he had trouble sleeping.
“Prescription” in hand he went to the recommended dispensary and got a card redeemable for a free joint. There are so many places to buy pot there’s an app to help tourists locate them – 13 within one mile – basically one on every block which is more than the number of Starbucks.
No record of his purchase was made and he was told that if he was going to bring the pot back to Florida, he should pack it inside something with a strong smell to throw off drug-sniffing dogs.
Sarasota County sheriff Thomas M. Knight shares similar concerns. “Can you imagine Siesta Key Village or St. Armands Circle with marijuana dispensaries at every turn?”
He also writes that many voters may think that medical marijuana will truly be limited to those with chronic, life-threatening conditions or severe, unmanageable pain. “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that this will be our reality if it passes.”
He goes on to cite these facts about medical marijuana in Colorado:
- average user is a male in his 30’s – no terminal illness and a history of drug abuse.
- 2 percent of Colorado medical marijuana patients report being treated for cancer
- less than 1 percent report treatment for HIV/AIDS
- 1 percent report treatment for glaucoma
- medical marijuana is largely a cash business due to banking restrictions
- last Nov. the DEA raided several Colorado dispensaries suspected of having ties to Columbian drug cartels
An additional problem was found by University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers who analyzed fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado. They reported that Colorado drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive rose from 4.5 percent in 1994 to 10 percent at the end of 2011. The biggest jump occurred following the commercialization of medical marijuana which began in the middle of 2009. No such jump happened in the 34 states that did not have medical marijuana legalized.
Kevin Sabet is Director, Drug Policy Institute and Assistant Professor, University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry opposed legalizing marijuana and has written a book called “Reefer Sanity – Seven Great Myths about Marijuana”
1. Marijuana is harmless and non-addictive.
2. Smoked or eaten marijuana is medicine.
3. Countless people are behind bars simply for smoking marijuana.
4. The legality of alcohol and tobacco strengthen the case for legal marijuana.
5. Legal marijuana will solve the government’s budgetary problems.
6. Portugal and Holland provide successful models of legalization.
7. Prevention, intervention, and treatment are doomed to fail—So why try?
In recent articles of his, Professor Sabet discusses what’s been happening in Colorado since recreational use of marijuana was also made legal. (It’s pretty clear that recreational use is the ultimate goal of those starting in on Florida with the medical marijuana Amendment 2.)
He writes in a CNN article, “Special-interest “Big Tobacco”-like groups and businesses have ensured that marijuana is widely promoted, advertised and commercialized in Colorado. As a result, calls to poison centers have skyrocketed, incidents involving kids going to school with marijuana candy and vaporizers seem more common, and explosions involving butane hash oil extraction have risen. Employers are reporting more workplace incidents involving marijuana use, and deaths have been attributed to ingesting marijuana cookies and food items.”
A Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one a new recreational marijuana shop, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife.
There has been a sharp rise in Colorado home explosions, as people play with flammable butane to make hashish oil. Despite all the legal, regulated marijuana stores across the state, prosecutors say a dangerous illicit market persists perhaps because of the high cost in the state licensed store.
In February in the Denver suburb of Aurora, a 17-year-old planning to rob an out-of-state marijuana buyer accidentally shot and killed his girlfriend.
On Colorado’s northern plains a fourth grader showed up on the playground one day in April and sold some of his grandmother’s marijuana to three classmates. The next day, one of those students returned the favor by bringing in marijuana edible he had swiped from his own grandmother.
In March, the state recorded what its first death directly tied to legal recreational marijuana when a 19-year-old African exchange student, Mr. Pongi , plunged to his death in Denver. He and three other students had driven from their college in Wyoming to sample Colorado’s newly legal wares. He ate marijuana-infused cookies, began acting wildly and leapt from a hotel balcony – the medical examiner’s office said marijuana intoxication had made a “significant” contribution to the accident.
But now it’s very big business and much harder to roll back or control. Sabet describes Colorado newspapers and magazines with pages of pot ads, coupons and cartoons aimed at children and teens – the ages most easily harmed by marijuana.
Al Bronstein, medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center recently said, “We’re seeing hallucinations, they become sick to their stomachs, they throw up, they become dizzy and very anxious.”
Special interest groups and marijuana businesses try to deny the drug is addicting but scientifically it’s not debatable: The NIH states 1 in 6 kids who ever try marijuana will become addicted to the drug. Baby boomers nostalgic for the mild pot of their youth do not realize today’s marijuana can be so much stronger than the marijuana of the past.
More than 450,000 incidents of emergency room admissions related to marijuana occur every year, and heavy marijuana use in adolescence is connected to an 8-point reduction of IQ later in life, irrespective of alcohol use.
Colorado also has the distinction of being the first state in which the President of the United States was offered a joint. While mingling in an upscale Denver bar Obama was greeted by someone with who called out “Do you want to hit this?”
If Florida hopes to maintain its old fashioned charm, resort beach communities, productive businesses and the health and sanity of its children and teenagers we should definitely give Amendment 2 a resounding defeat in November.