Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

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

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: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18