Things were a lot different when Florida voted on medical marijuana in 2014 – everything from the amendment language to those who will be voting at the polls this November. So far, everything points to a very positive campaign ran by Ben Pollara and headed by John Morgan of United for Care that is being well received by the citizens of the state. Since the initiative first started circulating last year it has been evident that the state is moving in the direction of being much more understanding of the benefits of medical marijuana.
However, regardless of the many differences between the 2014 election and the one we are all preparing for, the “Vote No on 2” campaign, run by Mel Sembler (or “Mel the Moocher” as John Morgan referred to him shortly after telling him to “bring it on”) is getting ahead of themselves – already having released a total of four videos that are meant to dissuade people from voting for Amendment 2 – once again calling it “a scam to legalize weed”.
In the first video released by the campaign, the narrator did his best to find the most damning evidence of a potentially harmful medical marijuana industry in California that they could find. They used videos that showed people smoking outside on public streets, wearing Rasta themed clothing and generally looking the part of the stereotypical “stoner culture”. Between that and continuously using the terms “legal weed” and “pot shops” they try to make it look like Amendment 2 is simply a front to legalize marijuana for everyone.
Now, they’ve taken that same information and placed it into a series of two different videos called “Three Things” and “5000” – focusing on things like the number of potential marijuana treatment centers (which they say would be more than 7-Elevens, McDonalds and Starbucks combined, though that is unlikely), a quote they found saying that the “average medical marijuana patient is a 32-year-old white male with a history of drug and alcohol abuse” and the fact that the creator of California’s medical marijuana amendment had once said it had turned into a joke.
Of course, there is no guarantee that there will be 2,000 marijuana treatment centers – but they found a quote from Ben Pollara where he had once stated “it could be 5,000”; which would only be true if the number of qualifying conditions was expanded significantly or a ton of physicians decided to come on board later in the game – but they use this quote to make people imagine a dispensary on every other corner and for those who are already against medical marijuana, this is probably a terrifying thought.
They also continuously point out (in both videos and on their website) that “less than 3% of medical marijuana patients have cancer or AIDS”. Are they forgetting that there are more than just those two completely debilitating conditions (MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, need I go on?) that absolutely benefit from medical marijuana use? Just because chronic pain is the hardest to prove and the most common condition medical marijuana is used for does not mean there are not thousands of patients waiting for legal access to a medicine that works.
Then they turn to focus on “budtenders” – which is the name often given to those who work dispensary counters.
There is a fourth video released that focuses entirely on the “budtender” angle – claiming that rather than having a pharmacist with medical knowledge working the counter it will be a person who only knows about marijuana from “personal experience”. On the contrary – chances are much more likely that anyone opening up a shop in the new industry will want their employees to be as knowledgeable as possible, both in cannabis and in how it can be used to treat different conditions.
If you look online you will find out that there are online courses galore on cannabis for those who plan to be caregivers, budtenders, cultivators and more. Seeing as the industry is not fully legal within the states, it is not surprising that the world of alternative education on the internet has taken advantage of the lack of a proper education system for these positions. In the end, any employer who sees that an individual took it upon themselves to learn about cannabis and the human body (and may have even paid for a private online course) will be more likely to hire that employee over the guy who only has “personal experience”.
After calling budtenders “dope dealers with storefronts”, they then turn to the fact that there is “no prescription needed” for medical marijuana. However, they don’t focus (except on their website) on the fact that a physician’s’ recommendation is still required in writing in order to become a qualifying patient. Since cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance according to the federal government, a doctor cannot write a prescription for it – however, under state law a recommendation would not be the same and would not potentially cost the doctor their license.
These videos take all the things that people tend to fear about legalization – especially the rather conservative state of Florida – and they exaggerate them tenfold while finding the worst examples of legal medical marijuana they can. They play on the insecurities of those who are still on the fence, trying to decide if the so called “loopholes” are actually loopholes to begin with. They do a lot of taking things out of context in these videos – like the comment about “no prescription needed”.
After watching their outrageous videos, it was time to take a good look at their website. The Vote No on 2 website is very reminiscent of the videos they have put out – it takes snippets of the wording from Amendment 2 and they make their little comments trying to tear it down, but they absolutely leave things out entirely. Not only did they once again focus on the number of treatment centers – going as far as comparing them to the pill mills that caused such a problem a few years back – but they also try to make another case that really got to me.
They copied a line from Amendment 2 stating: “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed to have a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card. (…)
Then they label this “teenager loophole” stating “Under Amendment 2, many teens will be able to legally purchase pot without their parents’ consent.”
This could not be further from the truth – if you take a look at the full wording of Amendment 2 the line quite literally right above the one they copied says “In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.” That doesn’t sound like a “teenager loophole” to me at all, how about you? (Didn’t think so…)
The website also takes the passage listing the qualifying medical conditions and highlights specifically the part that says “or other debilitating medical conditions” – drawing attention to that, rather than the full statement that specifies that the condition must be comparable to those listed and the “physician must believe that the medical marijuana would far outweigh the potential health risks for a patient”.
This means conditions like ADHD, which are far less studied and generally less debilitating, will be left out of conditions a physician would likely qualify you for – but they call it the “pot legalization loophole” on their website. Again, playing to the fears that people will abuse the system. And yeah, there is a chance that a few people will do that, but people lie to physicians to get prescriptions they don’t need all the time as it is, so what’s the difference here, really?
In the end, to anyone who knows anything about Amendment 2 and medical marijuana, these are all just jokes and fear mongering by a group who doesn’t want to see the industry succeed and patients to find relief. Whether it is a personal vendetta or simply a group that is in league with Big Pharma or some other industry that could feel threatened by medical marijuana the result is the same – they will twist words, try to warp realities and play to the fears that Reefer Madness set in so many years ago.
In this case, “Vote No on 2” is becoming notorious for trying to call Amendment 2 a “scam to legalize weed” – but anyone supporting Amendment 2 knows that is the farthest thing from the truth. Many people will benefit from medical marijuana – but regular old healthy people like myself won’t be able to just “go get a recommendation and buy some pot” when Amendment 2 passes.
It was created “for the people”, as John Morgan would likely say – and the truth is out with the most recent poll finding 68% of voters are prepared to Vote Yes on 2 this November. There is still quite some time to go until then – but if numbers stay that high medical marijuana will be right around the corner for the Sunshine State; and I hate to break it to Mel Sembler, but medical marijuana will be legal – whether 2016 is the year or not, it will happen eventually, so why keep fighting it?