Florida marijuana bill concern for some

Published 3:51 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

Covington County is literally a hop, skip and a jump from the Florida state line, and an amendment on the Florida ballot in November that has some worried.

Florida voters will consider Amendment 2 that essentially legalizes medical marijuana. The bill doesn’t call for doctors to write a prescription, but rather issue a physician certification.

“A written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient.”

Ads from opponents have made their way across state lines, and opponents believe it’s just a guise to legalizing pot smoking in Florida. Opponents are also scared that it pot shops will entice children to use marijuana at an earlier age.

“When considering the vote on medical marijuana, I would tell voters to look at other states that have legalized marijuana before making a decision,” said Susan Short of the Covington County Children’s Policy Council Coalition.

One of the goals of the CCCPCC is to help fight marijuana use in the county’s young people.

“The legalization effort is driven by large corporations who stand to make a hefty profit if pot is legalized,” she said. “One should recognize that heavy social cost associated with legalization. Colorado now ranks No. 1 in the nation for use of prescription painkillers, alcohol, cocaine and marijuana among people aged 12 and above. Some Denver residents say there is so much marijuana being smoked in their downtown area that it is nearly impossible to avoid inhaling marijuana smoke while walking down the street.”

Short said there are studies who have shown adolescents that smoke pot on a regular basis can substantially lower their IQ.

Adolescent females who are regular pot smokers are 30 percent more likely to develop some form of psychosis, she said. “Data has already shown that marijuana legalization would increase usage and any tax revenue gained from legal marijuana would be quickly offset by the social costs,” she said. “The examples we have seen with legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco have already provided some insight into what can unfold.”

Short said she hopes Floridians will read what’s going on in Colorado.

“People need to also consider the disparity issues associated with legalization,” she said. “Corporations behind legalization don’t care about the variety of social woes that would be birthed through legalization. The majority of pot dispensaries happen to be located in low-income housing areas. This is a very real problem for minority parents that are trying their best to raise their children to do well in school, graduate and to succeed in life. I can just imagine a mother worrying knowing that her children walk past a pot shop every day.”

If Floridians pass the law, the amendment would give the state department of health up to six months to establish regulations and up to nine months to start issuing identification cards to qualifying patients and caregivers.