Sunday, February 25, 2018
Politics

Romano: Why the double standard for kids on marijuana and guns?

We've got to protect the children. Who would dare argue with that?

When it comes to the potential expansion of medical marijuana in Florida, we've got to ensure that packaging is child-proof and that edible products are not designed to look like candy.

That seems to be the chief talking point for the Vote No on 2 people who are trying to defeat Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana. The critics have drawn loud support from some former state Supreme Court Justices and influential state Sen. Jack Latvala.

And I say, good for them. They are giving voice to their consciences. They are protecting children.

Just one question:

What about guns?

POLITIFACT FLORIDA: Vote No on 2 warns of 'kid-friendly pot candy' with medical marijuana amendment

Because, I have to point out, a gun in the hands of a child is more destructive than a marijuana brownie. And I don't say that to downplay the potential harm marijuana might pose to a youngster.

But facts are facts.

And the facts say guns can, and most certainly have, accidentally killed children. Meanwhile an accidental ingestion of marijuana is usually cured by a short visit to an emergency room.

So why the double standard?

Why didn't we hear from retired judges when the Legislature passed a law making it illegal for doctors to ask parents about gun safety?

Why has Florida continued to defend this ridiculous law in its judicial system journey that has now reached a federal appeals court?

Why aren't our leaders more concerned about those children dying?

This isn't a theoretical argument. Research indicates about 60 children, aged 14 and under, are accidentally killed by guns in the U.S. every year. That's just accidents. It doesn't include murders or suicides involving kids.

RELATED COVERAGE: Bankrolled by big donors, Florida ballot battle over medical marijuana heats up

This makes it an indisputable fact that guns are more deadly than marijuana in our nation's homes. And yet, we're getting hysterical mailings from the Vote No on 2 crowd, op-eds from retired judges and expensive ad campaigns from the Senate's new appropriations chairman.

Do expanded medical marijuana laws lead to more accidental encounters with children? The evidence says it might. Colorado has seen about twice as many hospital visits in recent years.

But that evidence comes with caveats. Colorado not only has medical marijuana, but has also legalized recreational marijuana. And about half of the ingestion cases involve purchases at recreational stores, which suggests medical marijuana is not the cause of the increase.

Marijuana cases also represent a tiny fraction of ingestion-related illnesses in Colorado, according to a study. To be exact, they accounted for six out of every 1,000 ingestion cases at hospitals. That means a lot of common household items and prescriptions are swallowed far more often.

Look, medical marijuana should be packaged as safely as possible. That's a given. And parents should be wary of leaving any type of medication within reach of children. That's just common sense.

What it comes down to is having appropriate parental supervision.

Which is exactly what pediatricians are doing when they ask parents about dangerous items in homes. And yet Florida's leaders want to make that illegal when it comes to guns.

Of course, we have to protect the children.

Let's just be clear on from whom. And from what.

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