NewsWeekly 13 September 2014
In the United States, Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, is leading a campaign in his state to vote “no” in the referendum in November on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative (Amendment 2), and warns that marijuana “for medicinal use” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The following article that he wrote on the subject has valuable lessons for Australia.
Amendment 2 pretends to help people with serious illnesses. In fact, because of the way it has been written by marijuana advocates, Amendment 2 will result in widespread pot-smoking in Florida, with few of those smoking it having truly debilitating or serious illnesses.
This isn’t a blind prediction. We know this because of experiences in other states.
An Orlando TV news anchor flew out to California to see how easy it would be to get “medical” marijuana. He discovered he only had to tell the doctor he had problems sleeping to get a prescription. To make it easy for patients, there was a sign in the waiting room telling customers what conditions would qualify to get legal marijuana.
The anchor saw teens and young adults with no visible signs of illness easily getting a “licence to smoke pot”. The average medical-marijuana card-holder in California is a 32-year-old male. In Colorado, only about 6 per cent of the people with medical-marijuana cards had debilitating illnesses. Most of the rest cited “pain” or “other conditions”.
If Amendment 2 passes in Florida, we will see the same problems. An entirely new pill-mill style disaster will emerge in Florida, with unethical doctors lining up to give “recommendations” to people with “pain” to smoke pot (for a fee of course), just like pill-mill doctors signed pain-pill prescriptions for profit.
The Florida Department of Health predicts there will be 1,800 pot dispensaries in our neighbourhoods and hundreds of thousands of users.
I’m not a doctor; I’m a cop. Ask me about all things crime-related and I can give you an educated and experience-based answer. For medical questions, I go to the medical experts.
Legitimate doctors, the Florida and American medical associations, and disease-based medical groups such as the American Cancer Society and many others all say smoked marijuana is not legitimate medicine.
But there’s an entire pro-pot movement, including those seeking to make huge profits off the sale of marijuana, who are trying to tell you that Amendment 2 is about compassion. These people are shamelessly using the very sick to push their agenda.
Doctors are not leading this campaign. A personal-injury trial lawyer and the pro-recreational-marijuana crowd are leading the campaign.
There are many other problems with the amendment and its marijuana-legalisation language. There are virtually no restrictions on who can become a marijuana “caregiver” — allowing addicts, drug-dealers and convicted felons to become caregivers. There is no minimum-age limit — children would be able to get medical marijuana. A patient needs only a physician’s recommendation to buy marijuana at storefront dispensaries.
And, in one of the few tightly-worded parts of the amendment, language grants sweeping criminal- and civil-liability immunity to medical-pot smokers, doctors, caregivers and treatment centres and their employees. So, if some quack doctor gives a recommendation for pot to your teenager, too bad. If a grower or dispensary sells pot laden with pesticides or chemicals, and someone dies, too bad. If a kid buys and eats high-THC pot brownies and jumps off a hotel balcony to his death (which recently happened), sorry for your luck.
The pro-marijuana lobby, seeing that the truth is coming out about Amendment 2 and its poll numbers are collapsing, have shifted to a new argument.
They now say, “Don’t worry, we will pass laws and regulations to fix all the problems in Amendment 2.” Right: Pass Amendment 2 first, then we will fix it.
Would you buy a used car with obvious problems on the promise that somebody will fix it after you buy it? Of course not. The pro-amendment people are telling us that the negative consequences of the amendment don’t matter. “Trust us,” they say, “the politicians and bureaucrats will fix the problems.”
I think people in Florida are smarter than that.
I predict that, if Amendment 2 passes, we will pay more in taxes to pay for all the unintended consequences, such as more marijuana-related car crashes, emergency-room visits and drug-addicted users.
I’ve educated myself about the negative consequences of Amendment 2, and I’m voting no. Ultimately, though, how you vote is up to you. I sincerely ask that you take the time to read the actual amendment, learn about the issues and vote according to your conscience.
Grady Judd is Sheriff of Polk County, Florida. He was first elected to this post in 2004, and subsequently re-elected in 2008 and 2012. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar, and the FBI National Executive Institute, and has taught as an adjunct professor at both the University of South Florida and Florida Southern College. He is currently the President of the Florida Sheriffs Association. The above article originally appeared as an editorial feature in The Ledger (June 20, 2014), a daily newspaper serving the city of Lakeland and Polk County, Florida.