Saying voter intent 'ignored' on medical marijuana, Tampa Bay Times is just plain wrong - Florida Politics

Saying voter intent ‘ignored’ on medical marijuana, Tampa Bay Times is just plain wrong

The Tampa Bay Times is just plain wrong about something, and it has stuck in my craw for nearly a week now.

Last Thursday, a Times headline read: “Voter intent on medical marijuana ignored.” Two days later, columnist John Romano followed suit with virtually the same narrative.

“Ignored?”

The clear inference of the editorial – notably, the word “ignored” – utterly fails to acknowledge reality.

“Ignored” clearly and purposefully claims the will of those who voted for the constitutional amendment has been intentionally disregarded or not considered. Whether you agree or disagree with the direction things are headed, clear evidence suggests Amendment 2 is NOT being ignored.

If the amendment were indeed being ignored, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) would have done nothing. Nada.

Instead, the DOH – absent legislative guidance and before rule hearings or public testimony – took a fairly dramatic stance expanding access to medical cannabis. The Department publicly stated physicians can now order medical marijuana for those patient conditions identified in the amendment.

That’s not ignoring. That’s the Department of Health taking a pretty bold step forward. (Applause?)

Typically, state agencies have limited authority to make such a determination. But in this case, the DOH action – taken within days of Amendment 2’s enactment – allows for the expansion of conditions precisely as directed under the newly passed amendment.

One could make the argument that this is the exact opposite of “ignored.”

Further, DOH did not (and does not) have authority to simply wipe away statutes put in place explicitly to handle an array of issues that deal with a substance that is (may I remind everyone) STILL illegal at the federal level.

The agency could not have, for example, issued an edict allowing anyone to grow marijuana or to sell it as that person saw fit. And they cannot just wipe away licensure requirements or legislatively mandated training requirements for physicians that are currently still on the books. Instead, they let the current statutory framework for growing, distributing and selling to stand – concepts that are clearly articulated under the law as it stands now – taking the bold step of allowing physicians to immediately begin ordering medical cannabis for a new group of patients.

Seriously, what more do the good folks at TBT want?

Second, and equally bizarre: they roundly criticize lawmakers.

This accusation – plainly false – simply makes no sense.

Lawmakers are, right now, in the business of meeting, taking public testimony and considering various viewpoints. They drafted bills, weighing different options and are moving forward with great speed, even though the start of the legislative session is still weeks away.

There have been three public hearings and, as of this writing, two separate Senate bills are being floated, and we can expect one from the House any moment now.

Again, what more do they want?  Session hasn’t even started.

Let us keep in mind that 70 percent of voters did NOT vote for recreational marijuana usage. Voters said “yes” to the PHYSICIAN-directed use of MEDICAL marijuana for patients with extreme conditions. The proponents repeatedly and steadfastly maintained that we would not have widespread use of marijuana but that it would ONLY be available for the severely ill.

One must presume that the critically ill are under the treatment and care of a licensed and, hopefully, fully trained physician.

The paper’s position that the Board of Medicine should have no role in the administration of medicine is not only misguided, but entirely inconsistent with the promise made by those who supported this amendment.

As a father and a citizen of this state, I am genuinely terrified that Florida could become the next California – or worse. We have seen what happens when imperfect, but well-intended, laws are exploited.

Once that genie is out of the bottle, it’s almost impossible to put it back in.

I don’t want to live in a state where anybody with a smartphone can feign virtually any illness and have pot delivered to their front door. I am fairly confident that most who voted in support of Amendment 2 will agree.

Of course, we will never know exactly what anyone who voted for (or against) it was thinking.

But here is what we do know.

You may not like the way things are headed. You may prefer Sen. Brandes’ approach over the one from Sen. Bradley. You may think DOH moved too quickly or was too narrow in their interpretation. Fine. Fair enough.

But saying the Department of Health has “ignored” Amendment 2, or imply that lawmakers have done likewise, is simply – and demonstrably – wrong.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

2 Comments

  1. What an idiot.. They absolutely ignored the will of voters BY PROPOSING RULES IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION OF THE AMENDMENT WE VOTED FOR!!

    I don’t care if you subscribe to this reefer madness way of thinking – We passed a constitutional amendment and they can either honor it TO THE TEE, or find themselves looking for new jobs after the next election cycle.

  2. “As a father and a citizen of this state, I am genuinely terrified that Florida could become the next California..”

    What alarmist claptrap. California’s system works just fine; you make it sound like the place has descended into chaos. No increase in traffic accidents or crime. No discernible increase in childhood consumption. You’re living in a laughable reefer madness world. Same goes for Colorado (which has the added bonus of seeing a huge amount of revenue going to the state for public works projects and education).

    Here’s the more important point, though: you equivocate “ignoring the intent” with “ignoring the Amendment altogether.” The authors weren’t talking about the latter.

    Let’s see the type of nonsense that’s happened so far: if you have a prescription, you have to give up your concealed carry permit. This is rubbish. You don’t lose your CCL when you get a prescription for anything else, but here, they’re trying to disenfranchise people. Divest them of their rights.

    And there is a bill that would classify 5 ng (!) in the bloodstream as creating a presumption of DUI. To give you an idea of how insanely low this is, the cutoff with any work drug test at LabCorp is 50 ng. A person could still have 5 ng in their system a week or two after smoking. This is an attempt to prohibit anyone from ever using MM by stripping them of the ability to drive – completely. That’s ridiculous and unconscionable. And it goes directly counter to the intent of the amendment. (And all of this is not to mention the inanity of using such a test when it comes to a fat-soluble substance like marijuana.)

    There are more examples, but you clearly have no intent to be reasonable about this matter. By all means, keep on being a Chicken Little propagandist; you will quickly find that nobody takes you seriously.

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