Florida Attorney General challenges citizen-driven medical marijuana initiative



Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposed medical marijuana ballot initiative in her state’s Supreme Court, arguing the measure would leave the qualifications for medical cannabis patients too broad and would create a free-for-all tantamount to outright legalization. Besides, she says, medical marijuana is federally illegal.
Basically, she’s using the exact same tired arguments that politicians have been using for years even though nearly half of the states in this country have medical marijuana laws and the federal government has (for the most part) allowed them to all continue without interference.

The language of the proposal currently says that patients would qualify for a medical cannabis recommendation for conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson’s and “other conditions” if the physician thinks the patient would benefit from it. Critics of medical cannabis in other states that have similar language say that it opens the doors for anyone with a made-up injury to get medical marijuana.
Which was Bondi’s main argument against the measure: “Any physician could approve marijuana for seemingly any reason to seemingly any person (of any age)-including those without any ‘debilitating disease,'” she wrote in an 18-page letter to the state Supreme Court. “So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use would likely outweigh the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it.”

Florida AG Pam Bondi.

The reality is that physicians should have the right to recommend cannabis for conditions that don’t fall on a four or five item list. That is between the physician and their patients. If the state feels a doctor is being dishonest, then they can follow the same procedure they would follow now for docs writing bogus prescriptions – like the state has done in recent years. But patients shouldn’t be punished.
Supporters of the People United for Medical Marijuana campaign say their proposal is fair and considerably more stringent than other medical marijuana states out west. Florida attorney John Morgan, who has bankrolled the campaign so far to the tune of more than quarter-million dollars, tells the Miami Herald that the bill is for Floridians who want medical marijuana but “don’t want another California. They want medical doctors and they want alternatives to pill mills and painkillers that cause thousands of deaths.”
Morgan says that a lot of this boils down to pure greed and political pressure from the Republican party on the Republican Attorney General. Pharmaceutical companies just love Florida for it’s magnetic draw on senior citizens. Imagine if that huge population suddenly had medicine they could grow in their own backyards?
“The Republican party in the state of Florida is petrified about this amendment because they know that 77 percent of Florida wants it,” Morgan told the Herald.

John Morgan.

We’re not trying to get all conspiracy theorist here, but just click over to the National Institute on Money and State Politics site and peer through the $13.1 million in campaign contributions from health companies and pharmaceutical companies to the supermajority Republican Florida legislature and Republican Governor.
Bondi’s argument goes on to say say that the measure is misleading in saying that the amendment would “allows [sic]the medical use of marijuana” because marijuana remains federally illegal and that it also contradicts itself with language saying the Amendment does not authorize violation of federal law. She may have had them on that last one, but I’m sure if that is the case the campaign thanks her for pointing that out.
All of that is crap, though. Bondi knows it, as do leaders in Washington D.C. and 20 states around the country (21 if you count Maryland’s insanely strict medical cannabis program).
Not only has medical marijuana been around in this country for nearly seventeen years, but recent federal memos have made it clear that if states want to regulate medical marijuana (or even recreational marijuana) they can do so. Of course, the feds could pull the rug out from under it all if they really wanted to because marijuana is still illegal, but that makes little sense after allowing more than a third of the nation to legalize it to some degree or another.
Supporters say they’ll have the votes to pass the bill, and the AG is just the first part of the old guard trying to keep the War on Drugs alive.
“It is not surprising that out of touch Tallahassee politicians like Pam Bondi continue to oppose compassionate health care policy in Florida,” People United for Medical Marijuana campaign director Ben Pollara said in a press release. “We are also confident that when they are finally given an opportunity to vote on this issue, Floridians will – by a wide margin – bring safe, compassionate access to medical marijuana to the thousands of very ill residents of our state who are suffering every day without it.”
In order to get the bill before voters, supporters must collect 700,000 and then pass the measure with 60 percent of the popular vote. As currently written on the petition, the laws would allow for medical marijuana patients to grow their own supply or assign a private caregiver to grow for them. The state would also regulate medical marijuana “treatment centers”, where patients could purchase marijuana in a retail setting. Details of the bill, including how much cannabis each patient would be allowed to possess would be left up to the state health department to decide if the bill is passed.