Two years ago, I predicted medical marijuana would fail at the polls. And it did.
This year, I predict it will pass.
Here are three reasons why:
1) Attitudes have changed.
2) Half of America has already made medical marijuana available to patients.
3) Floridians now know state legislators were lying little phonies when they said they’d take care of this issue themselves.
Let’s start by acknowledging that the majority of Floridians want medical marijuana. That’s not my opinion. That’s what the election results showed two years ago.
In 2014, 58 percent of Floridians voted to make medical marijuana legal.
Now, in most places, the majority rules. Florida, however, is not one of those places. Here, politicians don’t like citizens trying to run their own government. They like lobbyists to do that. So about a decade ago, legislators led an effort to raise the threshold for all successful Constitutional amendments to 60 percent.
Though medical marijuana fetched 58 percent support two years ago, research suggests support has since grown.
A Quinnipiac poll recently pegged support around 80 percent. Normally, you can’t find 80 percent agreement that bunions are bad or that gravy is good. And gravy is very, very good.
Support has grown for a variety of reasons.
Families are sick of seeing loved ones suffer – including those wrestling with everything from Parkinson’s and Crohn’s to ALS and HIV.
A lot of people would rather use a natural substance than a manufactured one like oxycodone, which is one of the most addictive prescription drugs out there.
Perhaps most important: People want doctors making their medical decisions. Not politicians.
Florida’s proposed law is a also stricter than other states with marijuana. It requires doctors’ authorization, patient IDs and regulation by the Department of Health.
And then there are those lying, scheming phony politicians I mentioned.
Two years ago, some legislators argued that medical marijuana shouldn’t be handled through a Constitutional amendment, but rather legislation.
Some voters actually bought that and voted against medical marijuana, so that legislators could do it their way.
Except they didn’t.
“The Legislature screwed up the opportunity,” Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes told Politico last week.
Brandes should know. He also opposed the pot amendment two years ago, but said he has come to realize his peers simply aren’t capable of keeping their word. Brandes cited the state’s delayed implementation of lower-grade THC for a smaller number of patients and said he ultimately concluded “the only way we’re going to see meaningful change in that area is to put it in the Constitution.”
A few folks still try to argue that an amendment is the wrong way to do this – that the Florida Constitution is simply too sacred a document to mess with.
The United States Constitution is a sacred document. The Magna Carta is a sacred document.
The Florida Constitution is a piece of paper that gets tinkered with most every election cycle. High-speed rail, special tax breaks, pregnant pigs, budget recommendations, marriage rules – all of this has been voted in (and then sometimes out) of the Florida Constitution in recent elections alone.
Heck, legislators – the ones who argue the Constitution is sacred when you want to change it – are often the ones putting the amendments up for vote.
Medical marijuana opponents have tried to evoke fear of widespread pot use if this is approved by warning that marijuana won’t even require prescriptions.
That’s true, but misleading. The reason there won’t be prescriptions is that marijuana can’t be “prescribed” under FDA guidelines. So the Florida amendment proposes a near equivalent – a doctor’s written permission to use the drug before any patient can get a state-issued ID.
Listen, I get the instinctual fears. I’ve had some myself. But I ultimately concluded that doctors know more about what drugs work best for their patients than I do.
And doctors certainly know better than politicians. Especially politicians who didn’t deliver the last time they asked us to trust them.