Ten Myths the Florida Anti-Pot Lobby Is Using to Scare People About Medical Marijuana

Ten Myths the Florida Anti-Pot Lobby Is Using to Scare People About Medical Marijuana
Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Florida's anti-pot lobby is back. And just like in 2014, it's spreading straight-up lies about medical marijuana to try to frighten voters. Two years ago, Amendment 2 netted 58 percent of the vote — just short of the 60 percent it needed to pass.

That result likely had something to do with Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's scare campaign to shut the amendment down: Adelson spent more than $5 million to help fund the Drug Free Florida Committee, an anti-pot political action committee and PR campaign.

Now, with another medical marijuana amendment on the ballot this November, the Drug Free Florida Committee is back, but minus Adelson's largesse so far. This time, Mel Sembler, a former U.S. ambassador and major Mitt Romney donor, is the money man behind the push.

Last week, Drug Free Florida sent New Times one of its first mass mailers — and it is extremely silly. The list, titled "The Top 10 Reasons to Vote NO on Amendment 2," is chockfull of factual inaccuracies and half-truths straight out of the film Reefer Madness.

We debunked them so you don't have to do it yourself.

Myth 1: Don't vote for Amendment 2 because it's a "permanent" change

This is basically no different from saying "don't vote for Amendment 2 because it's a rule, and rules are bad." Drug Free Florida claims that because voters would be amending the state constitution in November, the change would be "permanent" and could never, ever be revoked. But this is silly on its face: Constitutional amendments are perpetually modified by the courts (we still can't agree on what the U.S. Constitution says), and can be modified by — you know — the exact same amendment process that got us Amendment 2 in the first place.

Also, the actual text of the bill gives the state health department tons of leeway to set and change many of its own pot-related rules, so the notion that Amendment 2 is somehow "written in stone" is simply silly.

Myth 2: "Caregivers" would be "dope dealers with storefronts"

Drug Free Florida wants to paint well-meaning medical cannabis users as feckless criminals. Case in point: If passed, the lobby's mailer claims, Amendment 2 would allow "caregivers" to buy weed on behalf of patients in the event that patients are unable to buy the marijuana themselves. (Kids, the disabled, or the elderly would all fit into that category.) Drug Free Florida claims said "caregivers" would have zero medical experience and would be akin to "dope dealers with storefronts." 

Except:

1. We trust caregivers without medical degrees to administer all sorts of other drugs to people all the time. Imagine if a lobbying group attacked your parents for trying to give you prescription antibiotics as a kid.

2. The bill forces the health department to issue ID cards to all caregivers, conduct background checks on them, and prohibits them from smoking the marijuana they obtain for their patients.

3. The bill also would force medical experts to put statewide caps on how much marijuana a caregiver could obtain for a given patient, rendering the entire dope-dealers-on-steroids argument moot.

Myth 3: You'd get weed from "budtenders," as opposed to pharmacists

Legally, a pharmacist can't give you marijuana, which does mean you likely won't be buying marijuana from someone with a medical degree. But that doesn't mean the state won't be actively watching who is selling medicinal weed: The bill's text forces the state to regulate the "issuance, renewal, suspension, and revocation" of a dispensary's license and also mandates the Department of Health must establish standards to ensure "proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety" of said medical weed.

And, as mentioned in the previous section, there will be statewide caps on what a patient's "adequate supply" would be, thus preventing people with medical-marijuana cards to buy up pounds of pot with no repercussions.

Myth 4: It's "de facto legalization"

Drug Free Florida repeatedly compares Amendment 2 to California's medical pot bill, which was enacted decades ago and has long been criticized for being too lenient on undercover weed dealers.

"In reality, the comparison is detached from reality,” Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the group behind Amendment 2, told FloridaPolitics.com in June. “Florida’s Amendment 2 would be one of the strictest in the nation, and medical marijuana would only be provided to seriously debilitated patients when recommended by an actual physician. California has no such provision."

Myth 5: Bogeymen will market pot candy to your kids

"Amendment 2 specifically authorizes edibles and the pot industry manufactures them to look just like the junk foods your children know and love," Drug Free Florida writes. "In states like California, where medical marijuana is legally sold, children as young as 21 months are being rushed to the emergency room as a result."

Though it's true that, yes, there's been a slight uptick in marijuana-related ER visits as states have legalized medicinal weed, the Washington Post points out that the number of accidental weed ingestions is "relatively small compared to a host of other things that pose a danger to young children, such as pain medications, which are more likely to be in just about every household."

Also, the bill does not specifically allow the "pot industry" to market to anyone, let alone kids. Instead, it legalizes "food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments" for people who want the benefits of medical marijuana without necessarily smoking it. Edibles are especially great for children such as Charlotte Figi, whose seizures were famously cured with marijuana oil.



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