It is so unfortunate that Amendment 2 failed in Florida. Florida is a state that already has access to medical marijuana but only for a tiny percentage of patients, those with epilepsy or cancer. Amendment 2 was going to allow the Florida Department of Health to expand the program to serve more patients and make medical marijuana accessible for people who have debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease "or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient."
It was a fairly straightforward amendment but the quality of the misinformation disseminated during the campaign was a disservice to the people of Florida. As a huge supporter of the pro side of the argument I can say it was probably just as bad for both sides.
On the pro side, the argument made in huge letters on the homepage of John Morgan's website (he was the face of the campaign and its largest supporter, donating over $4 million of his own money) was "It's a plant that grows in our environment put here by God, not man. It works. It helps people."
On the opposition's side the Florida Medical Association issued a statement:
"As an association that represents more than 20,000 physicians, we have come together to reject an Amendment that does not have the proper regulations in place, approves an unsafe method of drug delivery and puts a substance that has drug abuse potential in the hands of Floridians, if approved in November."
The Florida Sheriff's Association, made up of 67 county sheriffs across the state, voted almost unanimously to oppose medical marijuana calling the amendment a "fraudulent" effort to fully legalize marijuana, and ran a state wide ad campaign promoting its stance.
What are we talking about? I get that this is politics and facts aren't always at the center of an argument but if you are going to be political at least be good at it! The argument from the sheriffs was that this was a cover for recreational legalization, why didn't the other side counter with a simple reading of this overly simple amendment that makes it crystal clear that was not what was happening? There are comprehensive studies unequivocally demonstrating that medical marijuana legalization is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault. Yet I didn't hear the sheriffs ever asked why they would be against something that has the potential to make their communities safer.
We always find ourselves back in the same position with this industry. The talent pool is still very shallow and although there is a shift taking place those pushing improved access to medical marijuana aren't always the most qualified to lead such a significant undertaking. But how did they miss so badly?
People care and want to make the best decision for themselves and their families. I strongly believe if the voters had been provided the information they actually care about as opposed to being subjected to a shouting match filled with personal agendas, the final tally would have been different. Unfortunately the messaging around this amendment did not draw off the facts and successes in other states across the country. And it's my belief the campaign failed as a result.