Regarding your Aug. 10 editorial (“Do voters want to unshackle pot?” Our Views): So-called medical marijuana abuses have beneficial side effects. In California, anyone who wants a medical marijuana recommendation can get one. The recommendation allows consumers to purchase locally grown marijuana of known quality and safety from dispensaries that generate tax revenue. Is it somehow preferable that Florida consumers purchase untaxed, unregulated and potentially unsafe marijuana from criminals? As long as there is a demand for marijuana, there will be a supply.
Marijuana prohibition keeps violent drug cartels in business. When drug cartels control marijuana distribution, consumers are exposed to illegal cocaine, meth and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of the marijuana plant’s illegal status. Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but marijuana prohibition is deadly.
The writer is policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy, based in Washington, D.C.
Regarding “Do voters want to unshackle pot?”: Wrong question. The question should be: Do voters want to keep cannabis unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminal gangs?
The ignored fact about the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug is what determines medicinal use. It is not scientific medical research. It is written in the law. Safety of use determines medicinal use. Marijuana is not dangerous. It is safer to abuse than alcohol. No one has died from over consuming marijuana. Marijuana is arbitrarily classified as a controlled substance, and that violates due process of law.
The scheduling of marijuana as a Schedule I drug is required by federal law to be in compliance with United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, which is subjected to constitutional limitation of a party under Article 36.
Police power is either reasonable or unreasonable. To be reasonable, there must be a victim. The judiciary has declared that marijuana laws are a political question.
Michael J. Dee
The recent opinion piece on the front page of the Tribune, “Greed fuels rally for medical pot” by Douglas MacKinnon (Aug. 9), reaches more incorrect conclusions in one article than I have seen in a long time.
MacKinnon calls Colorado “the poster child for all that can go wrong.” I would be more apt to call Colorado a shining example. Colorado Gov. John Lickenlooper has estimated Colorado will take in $1 billion in marijuana taxation in it’s first year. Colorado is a state with one quarter the population of Florida.
MacKinnon also asserts legal marijuana will somehow create a black market, when the opposite it true. Legalization will kill the black market. Of course, what is proposed here in Florida is a far cry from true legalization that Colorado has.
MacKinnon goes on to speak of the evils of marijuana like we are about to legalize it. He mentions deaths from car crashes, suicide and respiratory problems. I would suggest the most dangerous thing about marijuana are the laws marking it illegal. The only death I know of from marijuana was the recent shooting of a man in his own home by a swat team over two-tenths of an ounce of pot.
MacKinnon seems to have zero compassion for people who feel medical marijuana can help them live a better life. And if you are worried about the health of the citizens of Florida, how about a letter to Will Weatherford and crew to give 900,000 Floridians health care. After all, we know about six people die every day due to the Florida Legislature.
F. M. Younglove
No expert witness
Your opinion piece “Do voters want to unshackle pot?” last Sunday on medical marijuana was predictable enough, but you should really consider the use of more reality-based opinions in the future.
Specifically, I refer to the statement by the OB-GYN that you relied on for your cautionary advice about voting to legalize this herbal medication: “Welcome to pill mills part two,” she said.
Really? You can with a straight face compare physician-approved use of marijuana to the wholesale, reckless, deadly practice of handing out, like M&Ms, opiates, which have caused countless deaths to thousands, not to mention the nonfatal societal costs.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever died from marijuana, prescribed or not.
And is a gynecological physician really an expert in this area?
Randall Grantham, Esq.
Stop downhill slide
Douglas MacKinnon’s sober and instructive column, “Greed fuels rally for medical pot,” followed by last Sunday’s editorial, “Do voters want to unshackle pot?,” were an outstanding one-two punch on the side of sanity.
Medical professionals oppose medical marijuana. Law enforcement professionals oppose medical marijuana. The Tampa Tribune has stepped up with integrity and intellectual honesty to oppose medical marijuana.
Where, one might ask, is the political class? You know, those from whom we hear so much. Those who lie to us so often. Those who cannot resist spending and wasting so much of our money. When they run for office, they talk about “leadership.” Their vaunted, experienced “leadership.” When the going gets tough, we don’t hear anything from them. They hide under the bed. Some might call it “leading from behind.” Others would rightly call it cowardice.
Polls indicate that slightly more than 70 percent of the public believes that the nation is heading in the wrong direction — downhill, rapidly. They are right. A vote to legalize “medical marijuana” would serve to hasten that process.
The Tampa Tribune and other noncorrupted media outlets should press the politicians — local, state and federal — for their opinions. Give them the opportunity to really lead. Give them the opportunity to tell the public whether or not they want to lead the downhill slide or the return to greatness.
I have a question about the legalization of marijuana, particularly as it applies in states where recreational use is also permitted.
Marijuana is one of the substances on the prohibited list for college and professional athletes, and its detection can result in fines and suspensions. If I were an athlete in a state like Colorado, where marijuana is as legal as a glass of beer, how does it apply to the prohibited list of substances? Would I receive sanctions for using something that is perfectly legal?
And what about drug pre-screening tests in those states?
‘Charlotte’s Web’ rules
When the Florida Legislature passed the Charlotte’s Web marijuana legislation, it gave the Department of Health responsibility to develop the immense and comprehensive framework of rules necessary to navigate such uncharted territory. As with any new set of guidelines, the first draft is almost never the last, and the department has done an exceptional job of using public comments to correct rulemaking oversights and omissions.
However, there is one area where the department has seemingly turned a deaf ear to the near-unanimous voice of the public: the use of a lottery system to award the five licenses authorized by the new law.
By January 1, the department is required to ensure that the five licenses available to distribute low-THC medical marijuana have been allocated.
With dozens of potential distributors vying for just the five licenses, the department has a number of different options for how to award those licenses. The lottery system envisioned in the department’s current proposal is perhaps the least logical of these methods.
I cannot fathom that a person choosing a doctor would simply put all the available names in a hat and draw one at random. But that is essentially what the department is asking Florida to do when it chooses who will receive one of the five licenses.
I am also deeply concerned that the current rule language may result in five state-sanctioned monopolies. Increased competition will ensure that, in the end, qualified patients receive access to the highest quality and most affordable treatments possible.
A system that allows all five dispensers to operate statewide rather than exclusively in just one region will grant consumers the opportunity to decide for themselves which provider suits their individual needs.
Consumer advocate Walter Dartland is executive director of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast.