At their annual meeting in Orlando, the Florida Medical Association (FMA) recently voted to oppose Amendment 2, which is the latest attempt to bring medical cannabis to the state. The FMA is made up of about 20,000 Florida physicians. Unsurprisingly, PhRMA, one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most influential organizations, sponsored the FMA. The association has a history of opposing medical cannabis, shelling out millions to oppose the drug all over the U.S.
“There is nothing ‘medical’ about this proposal, and the lack of scientific evidence that pot is helpful in treating medical conditions is far from inclusive,” FMA’s CEO Tim Stapleton said in a shamelessly inaccurate news release sent out by Drug Free Florida, the billionaire-funded propaganda machine designed to instill fear in citizens to vote no on Amendment 2.
One of those billionaires is Publix heiress Carol Jenkins Barnett. Forbes lists Jenkins Barnett as one of the world’s richest people with a net worth of $1.72 billion. The statement claims Barnett does not oppose medical cannabis outright but is against a constitutional amendment.
Medical cannabis advocates are planning demonstrations to protest the Jenkins Barnett Family Trust’s recent $800,000 contribution to the Drug Free Florida Committee. Protesters will gather at the Publix headquarters in Lakeland followed by statewide demonstrations outside of Publix stores on August 13th.
Publix’s Facebook page has been flooded with 1-star reviews and “angry face” reactions with negative comments on nearly every post since the news of her large anti-cannabis contribution. Publix’s stock price has dropped 7.3 percent, their largest such decrease since way back in the days of the Great Recession. Perhaps they’re painfully unaware of the amount of money cannabis users spend on munchies like sub sandwiches in their stores.
To be fair, Jenkins Barnett and her charity have donated a significant amount of time and money to worthwhile causes that help people. The United Way voted her charity one of the best in the nation. Jenkins Barnett has personally contributed and volunteered for education, child literacy and homeless charities in Polk County where she lives. In Tampa Bay, her Publix charities have supported the Florida Aquarium, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Unfortunately for hundreds, maybe thousands, of Floridians in need of medical cannabis, this is one of Jenkins Barnett’s donations that will not help anyone; except those connected to the pharmaceutical industry. Due to her recent diagnosis of young onset Alzheimer’s, she recently stepped down as president of the company. Studies point towards cannabis possibly being an effective treatment to at least help stall the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Which is curious indeed, as she’s donating close to a million dollars to fight against the medical advancement of cannabis – the very drug that could treat her Alzheimer’s.
The Amendment 2 proposal will be on the November 8th ballot in the Florida general election. If it goes through, Amendment 2 would allow patients to use cannabis to treat specific conditions.