Dr. Jessica Spencer
Policy Director, VOTE NO on 2 Campaign
I’m angry, sad, and nervous about what this means for Florida, but the deed is done and Florida voters have chosen to take Amendment 2’s author, John Morgan, at his word. All we can do now is implore Florida’s legislature to take him at his word as well. We may have lost the battle, but hopefully we won’t lose the war.
When I debated Mr. Morgan on WESH 2 News in mid-October he made three bold promises to voters which the legislature should now take as evidence of the authors’ intent. Morgan began the debate by assuring the moderator (Adrian Whitset) and myself: “[Amendment 2] is not the legalization of recreational marijuana. What this is a cure – a help for really, really, really sick people.” There’s nothing the legislature can do about the lack of conclusive evidence that marijuana cures, or even effectively treats, any ailment. They can, however, take Morgan at his word and ensure marijuana goes only to the “really, really, really sick,” by further defining “other debilitating medical conditions”, effectively shutting down the unscrupulous, pill-mill-style doctors who will take advantage of any and all ambiguities.
Morgan’s second promise was made knowing I would cite the Department of Health’s analysis from the Fiscal Impact Estimating Conference. Namely, their estimation that Amendment 2 would bring nearly 2,000 pot shops to Florida. “They’re going to say there’s going to be a pot shop on every corner …” he began; and in attempt to stop me in my tracks, he promised: “Any municipality can ban it from their cities or county.”
If this was really his intention, he should’ve included a similar clause in his amendment. Regardless, the legislature should take John Morgan at his word by writing legislation that expressly gives municipalities the right to limit, restrict and outright ban pot shops in their communities. The same goes for edibles. The legislature needs to take Morgan up on his offer and specifically ban pot candy. Morgan promised: “It doesn’t have to be in candy form. The legislature can say ‘no’ to that.”
Hopefully by now, you’ve recognized their penchant for shifting blame to the legislature. Yes on 2 claimed throughout this year and last that their amendment was necessary only because the legislature failed to do their job (by “failed” they mean the legislature refused to pass a wide open “medical” marijuana law like Amendment 2). And so, I wasn’t at all surprised how readily Morgan was able to summon his cowardly response to my every objection: “It can only happen if the legislature lets it happen.”
That’s also why I would wager that this bothersome habit of theirs will extend beyond their campaign. Just as they got away with blaming the legislature for their very existence, they will now try and get away with blaming the legislature for all the unintended (and/or intended) consequences of Amendment 2.
In essence, if the state of Florida is witness to the same types of headlines you find in California (“Marijuana candy sickens 19 at quinceañera;” “Toddler rushed to hospital after eating pot candy”), don’t expect Morgan, or his bumbling fraternity of legal pot pushers, to share the blame. After all, when the moderator asked whether the amendment specifically forbids pot shops from opening next to schools, Morgan conceded with an emphatic “No!” But added: “That’s why we elect officials.”
That’s why we elect officials indeed. And that’s why my advice to the legislature is to unapologetically err on the side of caution and regulate this as tightly as they possibly can. Because, whether the legislature likes it or not, the people behind Amendment 2 are going to do their best to shift all the blame away from the authors of the amendment, and onto the men and women who are now responsible for implementing it.
Dr. Jessica Spencer serves as the policy director of the ‘VOTE NO on 2’ campaign. Additional information may be found at www.VoteNo2.org.