As most know, Colorado became the leader in the effort to legalize both medicinal and recreational marijuana use. As you may not know, the Governor of Colorado publicly apologized to his constituents for presenting anti-marijuana talking points prior to the legislature approving the use of marijuana. Yes, he apologized. Why? Because although he remains opposed to the recreational use of marijuana, he admitted that the rhetoric of the anti-marijuana crowd he employed had been a complete lie. Hmm. What parts are a lie? All of them.
The initiative of an amendment to the Florida Constitution came about because despite the public outcry for legalizing medicinal marijuana, the legislature consistently refused to even allow initial hearings on the topic. Why? Would the fact that Florida is the Nation's prescription drug capital having anything to do with it? (See http://www.novusdetox.com/oxycontin-oxycodone-detox-florida.php). Would the fact that members of the Florida legislature and Governor receive large sums of money from pharmaceutical lobbies that influence their collective anti-marijuana positions? So citizens initiated an Amendment themselves and it will ultimately go to the polls in November to decide if citizens favor legalizing medicinal marijuana. And the elected officials opposing the measure are now coming out of the woodwork, except instead of making real arguments (if there are any) against legalizing medicinal marijuana, they have resorted to expounding faux arguments that have been proven to be fake. Yet this does not deter the cynically minded hypocrites in the legislature, the governors' mansion, law enforcement, prison management and big Pharma supported physicians associations.
So why the big push to oppose medicinal marijuana? According to the opposition, if legalized, marijuana will be sold on every street corner in Florida. Marijuana will be openly promoted as acceptable to use, which will have a direct negative impact on the youth of the state. There will be no controls as to how much marijuana a "patient" may receive if it is prescribed. There will be a huge increase in criminal behavior and driving while intoxicated related accidents and deaths. And the best argument...The constitutional amendment proposed in Florida is flawed as it is written in vague language, which could lead to having anyone suffering from "headaches to back aches" smoking marijuana. If you think I am making these arguments up, check any media outlet and you will find these talking points match their claims.
But they are simply not true. How can I say this? Because Governor Rick Scott ordered his Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to fight the Amendment in the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the amendment language was too vague to be allowed on the ballot. But the Florida Supreme Court ruled the amendment may proceed on the ballot because it's language IS NOT vague (See http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/documents/sc13-2006.pdf). So why do so many opponents continue to argue that it is? Lie #1.
Opponents argue that it will lead to an increase in criminal behavior, yet in Colorado, crime rates have actually fallen, especially in the areas of drug and sexual assault arrests. Hmm. Oh, and seeing an increase in driving under the influence arrests - not happening. In fact, DUI arrests have actually fallen in Colorado. Just the opposite of what the naysayers are claiming. Lie #2.
Opponents argue if passed marijuana will be sold on every street corner. The amendment requires the Florida legislature and related State Agencies to create regulations relating to its distribution. Nothing in the proposed amendment allows for an open market in the sale of marijuana. The only way marijuana will be sold on every street corner is if the legislature allows for it. Lie #3.
Opponents argue that anyone with a "headache or back ache" may receive medicinal marijuana. Sure, make light of folks that have chronic pain from migraines, severe sinusitis, chronic arthritis or spinal stenosis (just to name some debilitating ailments). Easy for folks to complain about others that suffer from chronic pain (unless they are prescribed far more dangerous prescription drugs for said pain). Easy to have NO empathy for those suffering from Crones Disease or side effects from Chemotherapy. I mean, clearly these folks suffer from illness just so they can smoke weed - NOT! Lie #4.
Opponents argue that the proliferation of medicinal marijuana will trickle down to the youth and lead to widespread abuse. Really? But isn't it a time tested truth that if a child has loving parents that serve as role models, drug and alcohol abuse would be curtailed or minimized like any other unacceptable behaviors? But how can legislators expect to step into the shoes of families when it comes to raising their children? Which gets me to my final point. Virtually all of the opponents of legalizing medicinal marijuana are the very same folks that spout "family values" and freedom from government interference in our lives. These are the same folks that spout an ideology of free markets and liberty - except when it comes to personal choices that may interfere with their paid supporters' positions (Big Pharma , law enforcement and private prison lobbies). In this instance, politicians seem to always choose to regulate our lives instead. And that makes their entire public ideology of personal liberty and freedom from government overreach a LIE.
To all of those who love or have loved someone that suffers and/or died from cancer, ALS, Crones, chronic diverticulitis, spinal stenosis, chronic arthritis, and on and on, how about we think about improving their lives instead of guaranteeing profits for drug companies, law enforcements' receipt of drug related forfeitures, and expanded taxpayer support of prisons? Is there anyone alive that still believes the War on Drugs has been worth the cost (in human and financial terms)? Think I am the only one taking this stance? According to the New York Times, In Colorado (the same place these identical arguments were raised before they legalized marijuana use) "The criminal justice system is righting itself. Marijuana prosecutions are way down across the state — The Denver Post found a 77 percent drop in January from the year before. 'The ominously predicted harms from legalization - like blight, violence, soaring addiction rates and other ills - remain imaginary worries. Burglaries and robberies in Denver, in fact, are down from a year ago." (See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/opinion/sunday/high-time-the-great-colorado-weed-experiment.html?_r=0).
So what's my beef with this issue? The lying of elected officials publicly opposing the ACA because it allegedly takes away personal freedom to choose health care while misleading the public when it comes to medicinal marijuana. Their hypocrisy is front and center. As someone who witnessed a brother suffer from a losing battle with cancer, a dear friend whither and pass away from ALS, a father who destroyed his kidneys taking large doses of ibuprofin to combat spinal stenosis, to a wife diagnosed with Crones and friends suffering so much from it, enough is enough. Humanity requires society make it easier for citizens to cope without making them seek pain reducing remedies illegally. Illegal because lobbyists demand it be so. Stop the lies. Stop the rhetoric. Stop the hypocrisy. And stop government interference with the personal right of American adults to choose. Is it any wonder why less than 25% of the public bothers to vote in primaries anymore? Could it have anything to do with the complete loss of faith in our elected and wannabe officials who seem to always engage in hypocrisy?
As President Ronald Reagan once famously quipped: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Perhaps this is why recent polling show 9 out of 10 Floridians support the amendment to legalize medicinal marijuana in Florida? To those elected officials who oppose medicinal marijuana, stop using your governmental positions to employ a cynical campaign fraught with hypocrisy. "Freedom and Justice For All - including the sick! Have a great Labor Day holiday and week!