Sunday, November 19, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Federal government should not interfere with medical marijuana in Florida

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is using the public health crisis of the nation's opioid epidemic to justify an assault on states that legally allow the medicinal use of marijuana. He is once again on the wrong side of the drug war with a policy that could actually drive rather than curb the drug trade. Given the death toll that opiates have taken in Florida, the state's attorney general, Pam Bondi, should use her clout with President Donald Trump to set the administration straight.

In a May letter that became public Monday, Sessions asked congressional leaders to remove from legislation any language that would prevent the Justice Department from using its funds or authority to preclude states "from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

Sessions said the protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, would "inhibit" his department's ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act, and he said it would be "unwise" for Congress to tie the hands of federal prosecutors "in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime." Congress adopted the amendment in 2014.

"The department must be in a position," Sessions said, "to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives."

For Sessions to confuse the opioid epidemic with the right of states to administer medical marijuana in an orderly process is reckless. People are not dying from marijuana; they are dying from their addiction to deadly opiates. Speaking of the two in a single context only distorts reality. And it ignores the will of the voters in states who view medical marijuana not as a criminal threat but an exercise in public welfare. A Quinnipiac poll conducted in April found that it was supported by 94 percent of the public. Although the drug remains illegal under federal law, 28 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of medical marijuana in some form.

Cracking down on states where marijuana is legal could squeeze more people into the market for opiates, fueling a deadly cycle and violent crime. This may not be a consequence the attorney general intends, but it's a predictable scenario and a risk Florida cannot take. Of the 65,000 deaths estimated from drug overdoses nationwide last year, nearly 11,000 occurred in Florida. Bondi, who fought hard as attorney general against the pain-pill mills, should educate her counterpart in the federal government. Sessions needs to realize that the threat comes not from the deliberative process of states attending to the needs of those suffering chronic pain, but from the ease that narco-pushers enjoy in trafficking opiates.

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Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17