Immigration and medical marijuana
A good job, but not in feds' eyes
As an immigration attorney, I have met over the last few weeks several immigrants with deep local roots who face a conundrum. Although they have green cards, they may not naturalize — all because of their lawful employment at marijuana farms. Although legal in the Sunshine State, marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, and therefore illegal on the federal level. Employment in the marijuana industry is considered "poor moral character," and is reason enough to deny an otherwise eligible applicant U.S. citizenship.
In 2016, more than 70 percent of the electorate voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. It is expected that by 2023, some 25,000 Floridians will work in the industry in positions ranging from accountants to budtenders.
Immigrant farmworkers should be able to be employed in the legal medical marijuana industry without fear that their past or present employment will disqualify them from fully participating in society as U.S. citizens.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch advocate of private-sector job growth, should request that the U.S. Department of Justice uphold Florida's rights by respecting our voters, and request a formal adjustment of policies that negatively impact the legal immigration status of our marijuana industry workers.
Elizabeth Ricci, Tallahassee
The writer is an immigration attorney.
A dangerous 'conscience rule' | Column, June 10
No end-of-life heroics, please
Hospitals, rehab centers, and long-term care facilities need to rethink their mission and values. My generation — boomers now turning the corner into our most fragile decade — are, I would venture to guess, 90 percent not committed to longevity for the sake of longevity. While I speak only for a small circle of my peers, we are not interested in suffering, depleting our children's inheritance or spending our last years on the treadmill of doctor to hospital to rehab to home to assisted living. Heroics are for the beginning of our lives, not the end. Boomers are frequently blamed for many of America's woes, but I'd like to be able to say that I was part of the generation that pioneered quality of life in old age, death with dignity and medical-aid-in-dying. To all those well-intentioned workers with religious values: Leave them at home when you come to work in the medical world. If you can't, this is not the work arena for you.
Anne Decker, Clearwater
A stronger safety net for Hillsborough | Editorial, June 14
An ounce of prevention
Why wait until an at-risk woman (substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence) is already pregnant to provide services to prevent the removal of the infant to foster care?
The first step should be to identify at-risk mothers before they become pregnant and provide counseling, education, contraception or any other means to prevent the pregnancy. This is not eugenics; it is common sense. We educate and provide prevention services for all kinds of health risks for our general population; the prevention of the spread of the influenza virus during the flu season comes to mind. Aren't the most vulnerable members of our population at least as important?
Brent Armstrong, Largo