We’ve been waiting for it ever since John Morgan made his point loud and clear, and the Drug Free Florida Committee has made their first move in the form of a YouTube video. They released the video this past Monday and the half-truths and outright lies and omissions have begun.
The narrator starts out the video by searching “amendment 2 is back” on Google – where he goes to the BallotPedia page saying “Amendment 2 is back, but did they bother to fix it?” As he highlights “Medical Marijuana” in the title of the initiative he goes on to say, “Yeah, they called it medical marijuana last time too, but it was full of loopholes. Basically pot for anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
In the 2014 campaign, these so-called “loopholes” were such things as not specifically stating that medical marijuana was only to be allowed for debilitating conditions. This time around both John Morgan and Ben Pollara (United for Care Campaign Manager) have confidence that they have fixed anything that was previously in the amendment that might have been questionable.
Without taking a single glance at the new wording of the bulk of the amendment, the narrator instead scrolls past all this to the estimated number of Marijuana Treatment Centers to be registered and says, “Looks like Amendment 2 will put… almost 2,000 pot shops in Florida? Geeze!” Completely disregarding even the thought of using a word like “treatment center” or even “dispensary”, he went straight for the more derogatory phrase “pot shops”.
He then goes on to say “They have something like Amendment 2 in California…” and immediately pulls up a video on YouTube titled “Venice Beach Pot Shops” which displays a group of people playing a game of “fishing for nugs” on the street side, smoking joints in public and flashy marijuana leaf signs – you get the idea.
After that video, he goes back to Google and searches “pot shops California” and ends up on Weedmaps.com where he continues to make remarks about how none of these are pharmacies “Ohhh right, that’s because actual pharmacies can’t sell pot”.
During the video he also references an additional 3-4 articles on the web, and of them you can only see the title on one of them (the one where he references their statistic that the average marijuana patient in California is a “32 year old white male with a history of alcohol and marijuana use”) and that article is nearly 3 years old and prior to many changes in the California medical marijuana laws.
Throughout the entire video he speaks in a condescending tone, picking the worst of the reviews and dispensaries to display and show old articles from before California changed many of their medical marijuana regulations where it was speaking of some of the more out of control areas. Just the way he says “medical marijuana” makes me angry, to be honest – there are people out there who would benefit from this medicine who will not even consider it after seeing these misrepresentations of what Amendment 2 is hoping to accomplish.
Shortly after this video was released, I received two emails – one from the United for Care campaign and one from Ben Pollara. They were expecting something like this and now it’s time to start putting the truth out there and make sure that people can see past the lies and know Amendment 2 is not a scam to legalize recreational marijuana as this video would like so many to think.
“I am really baffled at how they could make such an accusation because under the 2014 amendment, the rules and procedures for approving caregivers were, by default, tasked to the Department of Health. Under the 2016 amendment, the Department of Health is specifically requiring to establish qualifications and standards for caregivers, including the stated ability to conduct appropriate background checks and the authority on how many caregivers a patient may have at one time.”
Mr. Pollara continued, “They can use misleading language like “pot shops”, they can pretend to show the public “research”, but at the end of the day science is on our side. Statistics are on our side. Medical marijuana is available in 24 other states and it is working! If it wasn’t working, whole countries like Germany would not be legalizing the use of medical marijuana. These people are out of touch.”
We all know why they used the tactics they did – we know they found anything they could to discredit medical marijuana. There are thousands of articles on the web that offer expansive evidence towards the use of medical marijuana for both severe and minor conditions – and Florida will only be allowing it for some of the most severely debilitating conditions, like many states, all with successful medical marijuana programs and dropping opiate overdoses since legalization.
If someone you know starts referencing this video in their argument against legalizing medical marijuana, please take the time to offer them a more clear understanding of Amendment 2 and how medical marijuana is used to help thousands of people on a daily basis. Explain to them that this would not open “pot shops”, it would open Treatment Centers and find them examples of dispensaries that are a little more friendly to those not already a part of cannabis culture.
All we can do until November is continue to spread the truth, debunk the lies with facts, and wait to see where the voters stand. Currently, we’re polling at 80% of registered voters in favor of Amendment 2, so it seems we have a good chance – but it’s still much too early in the year to feel too confident and we cannot stop trying to share the message because we can be sure the “No on 2” campaign won’t stop until Election Day is over.