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Amendment 2 on Medical Pot Doesn’t Belong in Our State Constitution

October 31, 2016 - 10:00am

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


Barney thank you for an excellent, informative article. We have to fight against the lies from the Vote Yes campaign. They really want to legalize recreational marijuana. Amendment 2 is a scam! It is a smoke screen for recreational legalization. Vote NO.

Hello Barney. Thank you for debating me at the Rotary Club in Tallahassee. You seem like a nice guy and my take at your opposition and feigned act at opposing Amendment Two is simply over money. You receive part of your revenue through drug treatment centers, like the ones morphed from Mel Sembler's old Straight treatment centers. Come on...its all about the shifting of money isn't it, Barney? Shifting money from the ilk of Mel Sembler towards cannabis legalization, medical research, for-profit-prisons, consumption of alcohol, and mandatory drug treatment for cannabis possession. This is all about money. Of course we know the cannabinoids in cannabis are medicinal. Five decades and $14 million dollars in research in Israel have proven the medicinal qualities of this miraculous plant. We have CBD and THC causing apoptosis (Programmed cell death) in cancer cells, THC lowering the ocular pressure in all four chambers of the eye, CBN as a safe alternative to sleeping pills, THCV to lower blood insulin levels. All of what I am commenting on can be researched via clinical, PubMed, National Cancer Institute, Google Scholar, and medical journals. The data is there. I know you are demonizing cannabis calling it pot and other names for pure drama and effect. Scare the public. Its okay, Barney. We will welcome you into the cannabis community once Amendment Two wins, and like a chameleon you switch over to Team Cannabis. See you on the winning side!

In theory, I am in agreement that our State Constitution is not the proper vehicle to make laws. That is the duty of the legislature. But when both bodies are rendered inert by the special interests and thwart the will of the citizenry that voted them into office to do the will of the people, that makes this route the only option to take. That's what happens when politics gets in the way of common sense legislation. Since the last time this issue was on the ballot missing by a mere 2% of the needed 60%, any person could predict it would pass the second time around. But did the legislators craft a law in the interim? No. And that's why these single issue initiatives have and will continue to be put to the popular vote when elected officials fail to pass a reasonable law. Sad.

Mark I disagree. The legislature passed two medical marijuana laws and they can be expanded next session. Medical marijuana has NO place in our state constitution. Embedding medical pot in the constitution will open a can of worms and lead to many lawsuits. I am voting NO on 2.

A really stupid Amendment.

2 years ago Barney it wasn't an election year. Plus this is perfect amendment for trump supporter to shaft the system (like they want to do) and democrats have kind of been open to this for some time. To me it seems like a perfect situation for this to pass. Nice try and that voting stat from 2 years ago. Definitely the younger voters don't tend to come out to vote in non-election for president years. That's the same reason why you got such high polling numbers in support with no result. I would bet there probably going to be more a lot more people voting this time around.

2014 was indeed an election year, or do you only vote every 4 years?

Not me but you can't argue the fact that most people and mostly millennials only come out to vote every 4 years when they are voting for presidents. Like you said in the article "angry white men" definitely come out to vote especially when given the chance too in any cycle.

Barney is indeed a dinosaur. Currently a patient must be dying to get full strength cannabis. How is that medical cannabis? It's not. And those lawmakers refused to do the will of Floridians, thus A2 was required. YES on 2. ForThePatients!

Barney Bishop so you are in the consulting business. So basically you are lobbyist that will probably hurt your pocket if this gets passed. All we have to do is follow the money to see you will be affected by this law passing as you lobby for the prison systems. This article is a public cry for help to keep you business running. Just like 99% of the politicians and lobbyist that share an opinion in this subject for or against have something to lose. Just like the most recent one spreading out there that kids are going to be handed cannabis laced candy in Halloween. NOT ONE DOCUMENTED INCIDENT HAS HAPPENED YET. In any of the states that it is legal. Much less someone actually giving away a 15 dollar candy bar. If you really cared for public interest you wouldn't lobby for the gaming industry. Proven fact to cause addiction and wreck families. People like myself see through people like you this article is just for your personal gain.

Yes, predators do hand out pot candy to children! Pot candy was found in children's trick or treat bags in Illinois. Amendment 2 will bring 2000 seedy pot shops and lots of pot candy that can poison children. Vote NO on 2.

Yes follow the money. It's funny since 2008 the pharmaceutical industry has spent over 150million dollars lobbying against the legalization. Follow the money. Police agencies and prisons stand to lose funding with legalization. Follow the money. Like someone already commented we do have plenty of drugs the pharmaceutical companies give us that can cure one thing but also when you get the prescription there is also 2 pages worth of side affects that come with it. Follow the money. There is not one documented death overdose in the history of mankind from cannabis. People need to get informed before they share their 2cents.

Spot on! Big Pharm also keeps trying to keep the fact that marijuana has been proven to kill many types of cancer cells, which would be devastating to their billions of dollars per year chemo drug industry.

I appreciate all that you have said, Barney. Thank you for an informative piece. I have never agreed with sending people to prison for possessing a personal amount of the stuff, but I do believe those who sell it should be prosecuted.I am, under no circumstances, interested in legalizing it for any reason. We already have drugs that can help those in the dire circumstances Barney has described. The motive behind this bad idea is, like always, MONEY!

Sharilee, please don't be misguided as Barney is a lobbyist for the prison system and has plenty to lose if this law passes. He is paid by those same people you stated in your comment that prosecutes for having a small amount. And if you don't believe me just check out his consulting business website. Also I love how people say that addicts start with pot. I have a huge problem with anyone stating this as a fact. Because before they tried pot I would bet my life that over 80-90% of those people stole some alcohol from their parents cabinet 1st. But yet nobody wants to call this a gateway drug because it's "legal". Alcohol is what got them looking for a high in the 1st place. What I do know that is a fact is that Mr Barney Bishop profits from the prison system and makes this article completely bias to benefit the industry he represents.

Oh Barney,.. you, a "pothead"?!?... SURELY you jest ! ! ! Next you'll be trying to convice us you were a juvenile gang member who "cut" Biology class to hang out at the General Store around the cracher barrel (you old devil you..!) HOWEVER, I am 'ALL IN' with you in this case: NO on 2 !!!!!

And who in the hell died and left Barney in charge? Why in the world should we listen to this guy? Been a pondscumsucker his entire career. Probably too late for him to ever get a real job. Once you get glued to the government tit, you are loathe to let go. It feels so good, you don't have to do anything and you are set for life. Barney is part of the swamp that's about to get drained.

The Trapper: you need to take a toke and sit this one've got way too much anger inside...I know a nice psychiatrist who'll give you a good discount rate

I'm sure you do know a good psychiatrist as you lobby for Physicians Specialists. Another well known industry stand to lose out on this passing. I find it interesting you responding to election years and someone that is angry but not to me. For calling you out because you lobby for the prison systems. An industry probably with the biggest to lose with this passing. I'm sure if the other side of the table had offered you a contract you would have supported them to. This is the biggest problem with politics today. It's always about the money and rarely for the greater good for the people.

What we need to do is de criminalize and get the damn government out of it. Anytime you can get the damn government out of ANYTHING it is a good idea. Just ignore it. All horse manure going back to the pondscum sucking Harry Anslinger. Reefer Madness. Stop the insane nonsense on the southern border. What if Trump doesn't win and Hillary paves the road for illegals and drug dealers? Stop arresting people for $5 worth of pot. Stop clogging the court system. If it was would become worthless. That would make sense. But, the government now smells money. Follow the money. And these jerks wonder why Trump will win.

We already have Medical Pot.. We don't need to legalize it for everyone

Why Not? Give me one good reason please.

Because the people of Florida don't support legalization...that;s your one reason

But polls indicate that only roughly 30% are against it. Or are you one of those people that doesn't believe in polls and only agree to when it's in your favor.

You're getting your polls wrong...about a third are opposed to Amendment 2...a vast majority are opposed to legalizing pot...stay tuned

I could swear that 30% is roughly a 3rd like I stated. Full legalization has nothing to do with this amendment. Trust me I can understand a person in your position is trying to fight this battle before it even begins. Because once the goverment starts making its money from it. It will finally be a evenly fought battle with both sides pouring the same amount of money. Unfortunately right now the it's an unfair fight and supporters are making progress being unmatched in funds. Your in the Biz. You can't deny it always comes down to money.

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