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Monday's letters: On medical pot, Legislature must do its job

Calls grow for special session on medical pot May 16

Unfinished job on medical pot

There are two words we as parents need to hear: special session. From the outside looking in at the Florida Legislature, you see failure and shortsightedness. The hard part is to imagine what the lawmakers must see from the inside looking out, considering that 71 percent of Florida voters approved the medical marijuana amendment and we still don't have access.

It is sad for me as a mother, it is sad for my family, but most importantly it is sad for my son. Gabe had his first seizure at 6 months old. He was diagnosed with a type of epilepsy that causes tonic seizures. Since then, we have tried everything to relieve him, from every "cocktail" available to shots to extensive diet changes, and have come up with nothing.

Floridians with epilepsy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases who could use medical marijuana to treat their pain are still suffering because our legislators couldn't come to an agreement. The Florida Department of Health now is tasked with coming up with rules governing the production and distribution of medical marijuana by July 3, with implementation by October.

A better solution is for the Legislature to come back for a special session as soon as possible to pass proper legislation that meets the will of the voters and brings relief to the tens of thousands of Florida patients who could benefit from medical cannabis.

Brandi Costa, Tampa

Veto bill that seals criminal records | May 15, editorial

Potential dangers

It's incomprehensible that anyone thinks sealing criminal records is a good idea. Even if the accused was found not guilty or if the charges were dropped, these are serious accusations that can't be ignored and hidden. Don't parents have a right to know who's watching their children at a day care center? Doesn't a consumer have a right to know who might be working around their home or business? SB 118 may help protect those falsely accused but it also shields potentially dangerous people from public scrutiny. Gov. Rick Scott should veto this onerous bill.

Anthony Edl, Odessa

Arrest doesn't mean guilt

SB 118 requires automatic expungement of all criminal arrest records that do not result in a conviction or finding of guilt against an accused person. Arrest information is often damaging to a person; many employers, landlords and other entities do not know that an arrest alone is just an accusation, not a criminal conviction. Accused citizens frequently lose jobs, housing, training and other opportunities because of background checks that reveal arrests. Unfortunately, arrests are often interpreted as a finding of guilt.

Opponents of this bill, including this paper, continue to confuse an arrest with some type of guilt. Not only is this contrary to the constitutional presumption of the innocence, but it also ignores the fact that in the Pinellas-Pasco 6th Judicial Circuit, almost one-third of the felony arrests are dropped by the State Attorney's Office after they have conducted a sworn investigation.

The governor should sign this bill to protect citizens from the stigma of an arrest that does not result in a conviction.

Bob Dillinger, Clearwater

The writer is the Pinellas-Pasco public defender.

Monday's letters: On medical pot, Legislature must do its job 05/19/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 5:51pm]
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