A constitutional amendment, in its purest form, allows the voice of the people to rise above — and override — the partisan bickering of politics and endless red tape of state bureaucracy. It’s power to the people, pure and simple.
So why doesn’t it work?
Two full years ago, Floridians spoke both loud and clear on Amendment 2: Medical Marijuana. The amendment supporting the legalization of medical marijuana steamrolled the opposition statewide with 71.3 percent of the vote.
So why isn’t it working?
Bureaucracy and politics have hamstrung the initiative with senseless barriers and political infighting. Forget all the legalese brought down to suffocate the amendment. Here is all we need to show exactly what the will of the voters was on that Tuesday in November 2016, the ballot summary:
“Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.”
Voters were not unleashing widespread abuse of devil weed. And there was clear, empirical evidence that marijuana helped ease symptoms of pain in a significant and suffering segment of society.
Since 2016, the main thrust of the smokescreen meant to talk the issue to death is the difference between pot that’s “taken” and pot that’s “smoked.”
What difference does it make? If marijuana is medically legal — and we said it was — who cares how it’s delivered?
Recently a Leon County circuit judge ruled that smokable marijuana is allowed under wording of the 2016 amendment.
Not surprisingly, the Florida Department of Health — with Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing — immediately appealed the ruling. Plaintiffs in the original ruling are asking Judge Karen Gievers to clear the way for her ruling to take effect — now.
None of this would be necessary, had the Legislature not hedged its campaign finance bets, passing a law in the spring that barred patients from “smoking” medical marijuana. Read that, they passed a law overturning what Amendment 2 clearly stated and voters clearly upheld.
Their reason? There are tens of millions of them to be made or lost. And legislators want the winners to be beholden to the House and Senate, not the voters.
Their reasoning? Smoking can cause health problems. How seriously would the potential effects a decade down the road be to patients currently suffering with Lou Gehrig’s Disease or HIV?
It’s been nearly two full years since Florida spoke to the humane considerations of medical marijuana.
Isn’t it time to drop the charade and let those who can benefit do so?
— This editorial first appeared in the Ocala Star-Banner.