It’s fashionable these days to hear that medical pot -- Amendment 2 -- is going to win at the ballot box and become a part of our Constitution. Not so fast.
The polling on it has been lower than it was just two years ago when it was defeated.
What, you thought it was in the bag-gie?
Nope. Two years ago, A2 started out in a Quinnipiac Poll at 88 percent approval. When Election Day came, it only garnered 57.3 percent of the vote -- a drop of over 30 points. This time around, its highest polling number has been 77 percent and in one recent poll just released, it only got 67 percent approval.
Now, admittedly, that still makes it a winner as long as it gets at least 60 percent of the vote, and that’s correct.
But, the polling numbers are going down, not up. Even if they remain where they are right now, it still doesn’t mean it’s going into the Constitution.
Because most, not all, support for A2 is from millennials and potheads (like me, I was once a pothead a long time ago).
The problem is that millennials aren’t real excited voters right now because they really wanted Bernie in the presidential race and instead they got Hillary Clinton, Inc.
To make matters worse, millennials aren’t even consistent voters.
“Old angry white guys” like me are the consistent voters and most of us don’t support medical pot because it’s only one step away from legalizing pot.
The real question that the proponents haven’t yet answered is, why should it be in the Constitution?
They always will tell you that 25 states have passed medical pot, but they never tell you that of those states, only 2 put it in their Constitution.
It makes sense for them not to tell you because obviously, states want to be able to change the law as science catches up with the people -- which can’t be done if it’s in the Constitution.
In Florida, you can only amend the Constitution every two years and it costs millions of dollars to do so. Just ask John Morgan.
A2 doesn’t need to be in the Constitution because the Florida Legislature and governor already listened to the people and passed two laws to provide both a low-THC version for children and a full-strength version for adults who will die within one year.
So, medical pot is already available and, in fact, the first crop has already come in, the first dispensary has opened, and the first deliveries have already been made.
And, if you're someone who really needs it, you could have asked to join the federal program where you can get pot grown at Ole Miss and have it mailed to you. Or you could get cannabinol, which is the pill version available in the market right now, which some people already use.
You might even be surprised to know that the so-called “Charlotte’s Web” low-THC bill has already had to be amended by the Legislature to fix some problems in the initial bill.
You wouldn’t be able to do that if it’s in the Constitution. You would have to wait two years, pay “volunteers” to collect signatures, hope you get enough, have the Supreme Court say grace over it, and then spend another entire campaign to convince Floridians that the amendment needed to be altered.
Why would you want to amend this amendment in the future?
What happens if we discover that more diseases would be helped by medical pot? We’d need to amend the amendment. I debated Ben Pollara recently at the Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy with my good friends, Rep. Joe Geller, D-Dania Beach on Ben’s side, and Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala on my side. Ben admitted that what he wanted was legal pot. And so do many of the supporters of A2.
But Floridians in every poll have rejected the free-wheeling and disastrous laws passed in Colorado and California, to name just two states.
That’s what this amendment campaign is really about -- the legalization of pot.
Just last night on NBC News and CBS' "60 Minutes," there were headline stories from Colorado about the terrible impact of medical pot edibles on children and the impact of pot in newborns, ingested through breast milk.
The number of emergency hospital visits has increased four times what it was just six years ago. But, I guess compassion is only for those who need the medical pot.
There doesn’t’ seem to be any compassion among the potheads about med pot getting into the hands of children, that’s a chance advocates seem willing to take, so that they can get their hands on it.
The proponents also love to say that no one has ever died from a pot overdose. OK, so what? That doesn’t prove pot isn’t harmful to a person who smokes it and then goes out and drives a car, or a truck, or heavy machinery, or a delivery van. That doesn’t mean some young people haven’t jumped off balconies and committed other crimes under the influence of pot.
The proponents always minimize it as if it will go away. Or they try to compare it to alcohol and say it should be regulated. Well, it is, and for good reason.
Just about every drug addict started smoking pot. Then they wanted to get a better high, and so they went on to more dangerous drugs.
Yeah, I know it's not addictive for everyone, and in fact, I’ll prove your point for you: The latest Harvard study shows that only 9 percent of all people will become addicted to pot. But in a state of 20 million, that’s already costing us taxpayers billions of dollars to help children and families devastated by substance abuse addiction.
Medical pot will provide more opportunities for more people to partake in it and the cost to society will rise even more and the proof is to look at the other states.
I’m not saying pot doesn’t have some medicinal benefits because there's plenty of anecdotal evidence -- though no scientific studies -- that it does help some people. And that’s why it’s now possible to get it under Florida law.
This constitutional amendment is two years too late, and even if it passes, it will be at least a year -- more if the law is legally challenged -- before a crop is grown and it's available to patients.
So, it’s not going to make med pot available any sooner that it's already available now.
In the meantime, if you have a medical reason for access to low-THC pot, or if you’re dying and you need the strong stuff, the Legislature has already answered your prayers.
That makes it clear that medical pot isn’t needed in our Constitution, and I hope Floridians will reject this bad idea.
Barney Bishop III has been lobbying in the criminal justice and behavioral healthcare arena for over a quarter of a century and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org