By Dr. Joseph Rosado, Special to The Sun
As I read the arguments being put forth by the Florida Sheriffs Association against Amendment 2, echoed by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell in a recent guest column expressing her opposition to this measure that would allow for the medical use of marijuana in our state, I was simultaneously struck by both the callousness and the sheer disingenuousness of their case.
Sheriff Darnell appears to stand behind the same discredited talking points being disseminated by the FSA across the state, a collection of artfully phrased half-truths, distortions and outright falsehoods meant to scare voters into denying this important therapeutic tool to thousands of suffering Floridians.
She claims that under Amendment 2 minors will have access to medical marijuana without parental consent. This is simply not true. A minor, like any other patient, would need to have a physician’s recommendation to obtain medical marijuana. Under Florida law, except in rare circumstances like emergencies, no physician can offer medical treatment to a minor without the consent of a parent or guardian.
She alleges that Floridians will be able to have access to medical marijuana for minor ailments like migraines, menstrual cramps or anxiety. The Florida Supreme Court, however, has already ruled that the scope of Amendment 2 is unequivocal: it will only make cannabis available to patients suffering from debilitating diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis among others.
She constructs outlandish scenarios including unregulated dispensaries, felons, addicts and ex-drug dealers qualifying as caregivers and a complete absence of dosage control. The truth is if this amendment passes, every single one of those concerns would be addressed by the Florida Department of Health, the agency that would be tasked with constructing the regulatory framework under Amendment 2.
Moreover, the Florida Legislature would still be able to pass additional protective laws to further enhance protections against abuse. Does Sheriff Darnell have so little faith in our state’s government that she believes it would implement this amendment in an irresponsible way?
Sheriff Darnell also attempts to convince voters that the recent Charlotte’s Web bill approved by the Legislature will be enough serve the needs of Floridians with debilitating diseases. These statements simply highlight why it is best for physicians to make decisions regarding their patients’ care, not politicians, or for that matter law enforcement officers.
The Charlotte’s Web strain of marijuana has only proven effective at helping children with intractable epilepsy. There is no evidence that it would provide relief to the vast majority of patients suffering from other conditions that could be alleviated by medical cannabis.
Floridians with debilitating diseases deserve full access to the widest possible range of strains so they can find the appropriate medicine for their condition. The only way to ensure that is to approve Amendment 2 in November.
Floridians deserve better than the misleading talking points the Florida Sheriffs Association and Sheriff Sadie Darnell are offering. As a physician I believe we need a debate governed by facts, fairness and above all, compassion.
The quality of life of someone you know, even your own some day, may depend on it.
Dr. Joseph Rosado is a Florida-licensed primary care medical doctor living in Alachua County.
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