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Medical Marijuana or Just Marijuana?

February 11, 2014 - 6:00pm

Throughout the nation, and currently in Florida, we are confronting a nexus of issues that swirl around the public policy regarding substances that are illegal that may have medical benefit.

In that nexus is the reality of substance abuse and addiction that cascades personal destruction, family destruction, and societal destruction with increased crime, gang activity, economic damages, and overload of the criminal justice and mental healthcare/drug treatment systems. It involves alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and new synthetic drugs.

At the same time, there is no doubt that medical benefits could be extracted from some presently illegal substances. The question is, how do we balance the public policy decisions to best protect and care for our citizens?

One initiative that may hold promise and be a template for future efforts to rebalance this equation is the work being done to try to craft a way to meet the need of seizure-prone children without destroying the safety precautions on testing, dosage, and quality control on medications. I am cautiously optimistic about this effort, but threading this needle is a delicate balance of safety and access.

The other initiative is a broad constitutional amendment on medical marijuana that is clearly the wrong approach. Putting this in the Florida Constitution, where it does not belong, severely damages and limits the ability to make statutory adjustments needed to manage this balance of benefits and abuse over time. The Constitution is to establish the relationship of a people and their government, not to manage medical/pharmaceutical governance.

In addition, the present language of the amendment now cleared to be on the ballot is flawed, giving Florida a Colorado-styled lawless, reckless approach where children could secure prescriptions without even parental controls. This will be a disaster.

Please learn all you can about this important subject and help Florida develop a cautious approach. Help others be informed and encourage them to vote "no" on this irresponsible answer to the medical marijuana question.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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