Romano: Don't be fooled by anti-Amendment 2 hysteria

 Associated Press
Associated Press
Published October 18 2014
Updated October 19 2014

If you trust the polls, medical marijuana in Florida is losing. Or, to put it another way, hysteria is winning.

Turns out, it's a pretty simple equation. The more outlandish the accusations get for opponents of Amendment 2, the less likely common sense will prevail Nov. 4.

Please, don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of commonsense reasons to oppose the amendment. Perhaps enough reasons to convince you to vote no.

The problem is medical marijuana opponents won't risk that fair fight. So they exaggerate. They fabricate. They find legitimate concerns and extrapolate them until they achieve maximum shock and minimum reality.

The result is a ballot initiative that once had strong support is now lagging behind the 60 percent threshold needed for a constitutional change.

And that's a shame because this is an issue in need of thoughtful consideration. Agree or disagree with the legalization of medical cannabis, its effectiveness in combating conditions such as nausea, lack of appetite, seizures and pain is undeniable.

For that reason, those in need deserve a fair hearing. Their quality of life is hanging in the balance and should not be dismissed by political games and scare tactics.

Caregivers should not be compared with drug dealers, as one atrocious anti-Amendment 2 commercial suggested.

Nor should their health needs be devalued by the ludicrous assertion that marijuana will become America's new date rape drug.

And commercials should not insinuate that this amendment will lead to teenagers smoking dope on every street corner when national studies have shown there is no evidence of this happening in the two dozen or so states with medical marijuana laws.

Pill mills are another favorite scare tactic.

Florida once had a huge problem with a handful of doctors haphazardly prescribing oxycodone pills, which, too often, ended up in the hands of addicts.

What the commercials don't mention is that pill mills were quickly shut down once law enforcement officials figured out what was happening. It didn't mean we had to ban oxycodone — a far more dangerous and addictive drug than marijuana — it just meant we had to do a better job of monitoring distribution.

It's a pity because, that's an argument worth having. The ballot language for Amendment 2 might be unnecessarily broad and could lead to unintended consequences.

Will the Legislature have its hands tied when it comes to medical marijuana regulations because of this amendment? Opponents say yes. Supporters say no.

Yet courtroom ramifications and legislative boundaries are not scary, so we don't hear those debates. Instead we get misleading and unsupportable suggestions of pot smokers on the playground.

Newsflash:

The republic is not crumbling due to medical marijuana. Nearly half the country now allows doctors to recommend marijuana as a legitimate remedy for patients with needs both large and small.

It hasn't led to rampant crime. Or increased traffic fatalities. Or many of the other dire predictions that seem comical in retrospect.

If you have concerns about the specific language used in Amendment 2, you have every right to vote against it. Just don't get caught up in the misinformation and noise.

Don't be fooled by hysteria.

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