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Voters beware of FL’s “medi-pot” initiative

T. Willard Fair | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.

Recently Attorney General Pam Bondi reviewed an amendment, which if passed, would legalize marijuana under the guise of medicine. As evidenced by a myriad of studies, some compounds found in the marijuana plant have medicinal benefit. However, I am quite certain that I will not be voting to legalize the street drug marijuana, label it medicine and make it available to anyone, at any age, for any condition.

I have followed this issue closely and continue to listen to both sides. John Morgan, the spokesperson of this potential

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T. Willard Fair

initiative, continues to promise that his amendment would not play out like California and Colorado’s permissive systems. He claims his amendment is very restrictive. Yet, AG Bondi’s recent statements conflict with Morgan’s.

I have seen the devastation of the prescription drug epidemic here in Florida, especially in Miami, and the Attorney General has remained steadfast in her efforts to curb the widespread abuse of prescription drugs and the proliferation of pill mills. Now, she has reviewed this so-called medical marijuana amendment and calls it “limitless.”

It is apparent that John Morgan’s words and motives are dubious. It is clear that the potential 2014 initiative would not be any different from states like California, where statistics show that over 90 percent of the users do not smoke pot for specific debilitating illnesses or diseases, but rather for what is categorized as “pain.” The term pain is subjective and left up to individual interpretation. Residents are all too familiar with the pill mills in Florida where unscrupulous Florida Doctors were prescribing Oxycodone for “pain.”

I am very concerned for those suffering with life threatening illness but I cannot see allowing a system that is predisposed to abuse. Looking at the prescription drug problem in Florida, there are many people who have legitimate pain issues who have been negatively affected by widespread over prescribing. That is not fair. Why vote for marijuana to be a medicine and trade pill mills for pot shops. In order to preserve the public health and safety of this great state, I have to stand with the Attorney General on this issue and commend her for giving an honest advisory opinion on this amendment.

As president of The Urban League of Greater Miami, I do not feel that this initiative conveys its true meaning and ramifications. Further, as discussed earlier this year at the Liberty City Marijuana Summit, I am certain that if passed, this amendment would have a negative impact on public safety for our residents. I believe it would increase drugged driving, as it did in California. It will also have negative environmental impacts from marijuana grow operations, as it has had in other states that have legalized marijuana. We can learn from the mistakes that other states have made. We must be wise and look at the facts before we vote.

T. Willard Fair, CEO, The Urban League of Greater Miami