Nov. 9 Update: Amendment 2 passed, earning 71 percent of the vote. Read more about this historic vote.
For months, polls have suggested that the medical marijuana initiative in Florida, known as Amendment 2, will pass come Election Day 2016. These polls have only strengthened the resolve of some opposition groups, and they are now embarking on a last ditch campaign of misleading advertisements in an attempt to defeat the measure.
Although most Floridians know a smear campaign when they see one, this article will break down the ballot summary line by line so there is no room for distorting what Amendment 2 legalizes.
“Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.”
Possibly the most important phrase from the ballot summary is the phrase “debilitating medical conditions.” This outlines exactly what ailments can be treated with medical marijuana. In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card, one would need to be evaluated by a licensed physician and diagnosed with a condition like cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis.
Unless you are diagnosed with a condition as severe as the ones listed above, you will not have access to a medical marijuana card. On the other hand, if you do have one of these conditions, your quality of life may be greatly improved. Voting #YesOn2 come November 8 could potentially help hundreds of thousands of people, not turn Florida into a destination for “potheads” as the smear campaign would suggest.
“Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana.”
In this case, a caregiver refers to a person at least 21 years of age who has agreed to help a qualified medical marijuana patient, and has obtained a caregiver ID card issued by the Department of Health. The DOH is allowed to limit the number of patients a caregiver is allowed to help. Under no circumstance are they allowed to consume any of the marijuana obtained for use by the patient.
This portion of the law is important, as people with debilitating conditions that will qualify for medical marijuana may be weak and unable to prepare the marijuana for use on their own. Without a caregiver, the benefits of the amendment could be lost for many of Florida’s most ill patients.
“The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes.”
One of the key talking points for opponents of Amendment 2 is the construction of dispensaries, or “pot shops” as they are referred to in anti-medical marijuana ads. A popular number that has been thrown around is 2,000, which the ad says would be more than all the Starbucks, McDonalds, and 7-Elevens in the state combined. However those numbers are misleading, and the exact number would be determined by the Florida legislature.
Investigations have revealed that the numbers mentioned above are based on a DOH Report that looked at the population of Colorado and the number of dispensaries it had and scaled those numbers to Florida and its much larger population.
The study also included the recreational dispensaries in Colorado, distorting the estimated number of dispensaries in Florida, as legalized recreational marijuana is not part of the proposed legislation. Clearly, these numbers were determined in a speculative and unscientific fashion, and should not be seen as an accurate estimate of how many dispensaries Florida could have.
“The Department of Health… shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.”
After being examined by a licensed physician and receiving their certification, patients become eligible for an ID card distributed by the DOH. In the case of a minor, a parent or legal guardian must consent in writing that they allow for the minor to use medical marijuana. This should dispel any notion that children will have unfettered access to marijuana, as minors with debilitating medical conditions will have their dosage carefully supervised by their legal guardian and licensed physician.