Medical marijuana advocates slam ‘scare tactics’ of Florida Sheriffs Association and Drug Free America

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With the possibility Florida may finally pass a state law legalizing medicinal marijuana next week, advocates for the legislation say opponents of Amendment 2 are using “scare tactics” to try to persuade Floridians to reject the proposal. Specifically, they’re taking aim at the claims there is a danger of marijuana edibles ending up in their children’s Halloween candy.

“This is a farce. This is totally unfounded, and it is an absolute lie,” said Chris Cano, executive director for the Central Florida office of NORML (the National Organization of Reform Marijuana Laws).

At a press conference last week, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association and a member of the Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot Coalition, said that after other states approved similar legislation as Amendment 2, they saw a surge in marijuana edible products emerge that were “clearly attractive to children.”

“They may have warning labels, but does a 6-year-old really know the difference or read a label before grabbing and eating a product which is attractively marketed the same as consumables for their young age group?” Demings asked.

“The challenges presented by legalizing marijuana have been widely noted across the country,” said drug policy expert and Drug Free America Foundation Executive Director Calvina Fay. “If you are a parent of a child, you should be aware that Amendment 2 will open the floodgates and expose our children to an enormous risk in the form of edible marijuana.”

At a press conference held in Ybor City Monday, Cano called it “shameful” that both organizations find it necessary to use such “basic lies” to attack Amendment 2. He said there have been virtually no reports ever of poisoning Halloween candy nationally in decades, citing a Halloween Hotline created by the National Confectioners Association that he said hadn’t had any such reports. He also cited a University of South Illinois study that listed only two such incidents happening in three decades.

Two years ago, the fact-checking website snopes.com reported that “police have never documented cases of people randomly distributing poisoned goodies to children on Halloween.”

“The scare tactics of the Drug Free Foundation of America are scaring people,” complained Michael Minardi, chairman of Regulate Florida. “The calls that they’re making in the middle of the night are putting people in fear and lying about what’s going on here.”

Minardi was referencing reports from dozens of people who complained they received robocalls in the middle of the night on Sunday from the No on Two camp. Vote No on 2 spokeswoman Christina Johnson told Sunshine State News the calls were supposed to run from noon to 7 p.m., but a vendor error caused the calls to run from midnight to 7 a.m. instead.

Minardi said states that have legalized medicinal pot have passed measures like childproof packaging to prevent such potential poisonings. Gummy bears are being phased out in Washington state, he added.

“On the shelves in Walmart and in stores across Florida they’re selling alcohol-infused chocolate candies,” says Moriah Barnhart, founder and CEO of CannaMoms. “Nobody is talking about the risks of these because we fully expect one another to be responsible adults, right?” she asked.

The advocates said that if voters had any concerns about Amendment 2 before going to the polls, they should attend what is being called “CannaDay Tampa Bay 2016,” an all-day event being held this Saturday at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore.

Last updated on October 31, 2016

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • Jenifer Markoe

    November 1, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    People buying medical marijuana are not going to put in candy for kids. To get medical marijuana you must be approved by the state and buy it at certain places. You are much more likely having some teenager trying to put it in his sister candy for a prank then someone who is paying $ 200 or more to use it for a medical condition. The problem is they are looking at bath salts and cigarettes packaging and making it sound you will be able to buy medical marijuana over the counter in some store. They no doubt this group are being very misleading. In MN edibles medical marijuana is not even allowed

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