TAMPA — The Florida Medical Association has taken a stand against Amendment 2, saying the medical marijuana initiative on this fall's state ballot carries unintended consequences that constitute a public health risk.
That puts the organization of 20,000 doctors firmly in the opposition camp with many law enforcement groups, but it doesn't necessarily give those trying to derail the pot effort any measurable clout. Of the seven states to have approved medical marijuana in the past two years, the prominent medical societies have opposed the measures in five — with those in two others taking no position on the issue.
“Would I have liked for the FMA to come out for this? Sure,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the amendment's chief proponent. “Do they represent all of the doctors in the state? Absolutely not. We hear every single day from doctors and nurses and other health care professionals that this is something they want in their toolbox of treatment options to recommend to their patients.”
The Florida Medical Association had already opposed the measure when the ballot language went before the Florida Supreme Court in January and was approved. The doctor's group had been quiet since then, but announced this week that its House of Delegates unanimously adopted a resolution in opposition to Amendment 2 at a July conference.
“We believe the unintended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians,” said Alan Pillersdorf, president of the medical association, in a statement. “The lack of clear definitions in the amendment would allow healthcare providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances to order medical marijuana.”
Rules for the handling of marijuana have not been developed by the state Department of Health and won't be unless the amendment is passed by voters. The FMA said the amendment “would allow healthcare providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances to order medical marijuana.”
But in states that have recently passed medical marijuana laws, medical societies and associations have typically participated in drawing up training and educational requirements even if they objected to the legislation.
When the Florida Legislature passed the “Charlotte's Web” measure this spring allowing a non-euphoric cannabis strain to be prescribed for certain disorders, lawmakers included language stating that doctors must undergo at least eight hours of Florida Medical Association training to be allowed to order the marijuana for patients.
In the past two years, doctor's societies or associations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York opposed medical marijuana legislation, which ultimately passed. In two more states approving medical marijuana, Maryland and Illinois, doctors organizations remained neutral. There are now 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, that allow some form of medical marijuana.
The American Medical Association has urged the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use, but said that was not an endorsement of state medical marijuana programs nor an affirmation that research on the substance meets standards for a prescription drug product.