From the Westside Editorial Board (WEB)
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 and before, voters will be casting their vote Yes or NO on Amendment 2 which legalizes medical marijuana. Of course no one wants to see family or friends suffer. But is this a “SMOKE SCREEN?” No pun intended! Is Amendment 2 much too broad? Will this Amendment open the flood gates to loopholes for increased marijuana use among our children and misuse and abuse by illegal drug users?
Every voter must clear away the SMOKE SCREEN and peep through a clear looking glass and ask the real questions. Are we really looking at the consequences that Amendment 2 has on our youth — the adverse effects of pot smoking, especially on adolescents’ mental, emotional and physical health? Do you really believe legalizing medical marijuana will have a positive impact on illegal marijuana use? Is there even enough evidence to support the benefits of long term use of marijuana? Do you believe that we need to strengthen the regulations before we approve Amendment 2? Is marijuana a drug that is approved by the FDA? Are you okay with your children or grandchildren using marijuana?
We must be mindful that this drug and its usage can be medical to some, recreational to others and offensive to many. With the billions of dollars spent for research on various conditions, all of a sudden the main prescription that has been introduced is now rolled up in a joint?
The Amendment appears to be benign, compassionate and even helpful in curving the tide of criminal arrest for marijuana. But let’s examine the facts in a “Pro-Con” method of discussion:
PRO: Medical marijuana would help patients who have a debilitating disease.
CON: The language in the Amendment is too vague. It lists Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis and “OTHER CONDITIONS.” These “other conditions” leaves a humongous loophole that will be exploited and abused. We need to close the loopholes by changing the language before, Not after the Amendment is approved. Because once it is approved we are “stuck in a smoke screen.”
PRO: Minorities are disproportionately criminalized for illegal possession of marijuana. This will keep minorities from going to jail for marijuana possession.
CON: This is the thickest “SMOKE SCREEN” circulating. The Laws of the State of Florida are still the same. We believe that more Minorities will go to jail because of the ambiguity of Amendment 2. Some may falsely believe that marijuana is legal and DUI’s and possession charges won’t be prosecuted. False! This false thinking will lead to more, not less, criminal arrest for marijuana possession and DUI type offenses.
PRO: Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana. It must be a good thing.
CON: Most other states have spotted potential problems with the law and worded the language in their Amendments to close loopholes and have a closed list of treatable conditions and require approval by a state agency. Most other states have carefully crafted laws and regulations to avoid potential problems in misuse and abuse.
PRO: The identification cards would prevent unqualified patients from purchasing medical marijuana. Only qualified patients and their licensed caregivers would be allowed to purchase and administer the drug. After all, the health department would regulate the industry.
CON: As we all know, there would be a flood of black market counterfeit identification cards as well as unscrupulous caregivers abusing the systems. Since the legislature has not allocated any additional funding to the Health Department to monitor these regulations, it is safe to assume that the Health Department will be under-staffed to effectively manage such a daunting task.
PRO: We can at least give Amendment 2 a try to see if it is better than doing nothing to help people with debilitating illnesses.
CON: “SMOKE SCREEN!” There is no such thing as a trial run. A constitutional amendment cannot be changed with-out another vote by Floridians. Once we say Yes to Amendment 2, it would literally take an act of Congress to repel it. It is more logical to say No, not now and when the Amendment is re-writ-ten and stricter regulations are included, then we can consider it.
PRO: We just want to help sick and hurting people find relief from their pain and suffering.
CON: Amendment 2 does NOT distinguish between non-euphoric marijuana and euphoric marijuana. We believe there will be an exponential in-crease in public intoxication, DUI, etc., from marijuana use. There is a more prudent way to help people with debilitating illnesses find relief, but Amendment 2 does not provide guidance or address this issue. We need to revisit the regulations before we approve Amendment 2.
PRO: Children who are suffering from seizures and other illnesses will finally have an alternative relief.
CON: Minor children would be more easily targeted by illicit drug pushers to use marijuana. Because there are No age restrictions and Parental consent is Not required. Therefore, there will be easy access and use for children.
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intensions……
While it is a laudable and well intentioned attempt to try to provide whatever assistance and or relief available to the sick of our community in the way of legalized medical marijuana, the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November is not the vehicle to use. This amendment as proposed is the construct of a high speed freeway heading straight to hell.
With no speed limits or road patrol in the form of meaningful regulation included in the amendment wording, and with no wording to restrict only the medical form and not recreational form of marijuana and no limit as to the amount allowed, not to mention inadequate policy & personnel to monitor the growth, sale, and distribution of the legal marijuana, mass road fatalities are inevitable within our community.
While well intended, this Amendment as it is written does not address the criminalization of marijuana and subsequent negative effect it has on our community in terms of lost voting rights and employment opportunities.
This Amendment as it is written does not address any type of standardized strength or potency of the marijuana as required by the FDA for ALL other drugs. Basically, this amendment as a constitutional right leaves limited room for regulation. This Amendment as it is written, simply makes it a constitutional right to smoke marijuana – a well intended idea that can certainly send our entire community straight to hell. We can do better.
Do we really know that at the forefront of Amendment 2 is to help those who are suffering from debilitating illnesses?
The natural feeling for many Black folks is to legally open the door for marijuana since we are disproportionately being arrested for it. The general attitude is—“you might as well”.
If lobbyists or legislators really want to help the Black community beyond medical marijuana, please address the present marijuana laws. A drug conviction alone, will stop, and has stopped, many brothers/sisters from getting jobs, an apartment, and even from going to the Armed Services.
The painful stigma of a minor drug record will stay with them for life. In plain English, the drug conviction is worse than the addiction.
We do know today that our young people will be lured to experiment or sell marijuana not because of its medicinal qualities but because there is an amendment that states it is legal. We do know today that our community does not have the dubious luxury of embracing drugs even if they are legal. Just check out the pill mills that were operated here in South Florida. Just check out the number of our young people who are in prison. Just check out the latest unemployment figures, death stats and broken homes we have in our communities.
The WEB’s position is not oppositional for a cure that may enhance the lives of sick individuals; we just choose to prioritize what’s really killing us—the laws. WE SAY VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 2 as it is written.