Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Pinellas sheriff: Medical marijuana amendment has bad side effects

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri supports proven medical uses for cannabinoids, such as the recently approved Charlotte’s Web, but he believes Amendment 2 is written in ways that will lead to negative side effects.
Published Aug. 21, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — It's not that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is against access to the potential medical benefits of marijuana — he's worried about the potential side effects.

During a visit to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Wednesday, Gualtieri expressed dismay about Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on this November's ballot. Gualtieri, constitutional attorney Susan Kelsey and Dr. Rafael Miguel of the Sarasota Memorial Institute for Advanced Medicine's Pain Medicine Program, were representing Drug Free America's campaign against the amendment.

The sheriff said the broad language of the proposal leaves plenty of room for potential pitfalls, not the least of which is making access to marijuana easier for recreational users and addicts, not just legitimate patients. He added he isn't sure the state Department of Health would be able to institute sufficient controls to manage cultivation and distribution of the drug within the time frame specified under the amendment.

Gualtieri said he didn't object to proven medical uses for cannabinoids, such as the recently approved Charlotte's Web, administered as an oil for seizure disorders. He would prefer a medical marijuana amendment focused on specific medical uses instead of the amendment's references to debilitating conditions in general language, which he equates to recreational use.

"If it was crafted a lot differently than it is, then I'd be more for it," Gualtieri said of Amendment 2.

Miguel said that from a medical standpoint, concentrating on legalizing the smokeable form of the drug presented problems, such as dosage and regulation.

Furthermore, the distribution model broadly described in the amendment could lead to unintended consequences, he said. For example: Unlike prescriptions from a doctor, Miguel said, a marijuana recommendation has no time limit.

"You don't get refills, you get it forever," he said. "There's no regulation on consumption."

Should Amendment 2 pass, the Legislature would be in charge of making sure the right to medical marijuana is implemented. It can't restrict any right put forth in the wording of the proposal, Kelsey said.

She said that of the 24 states that have medical marijuana laws, 17 have amended their statutes. Florida would not have that luxury because the Legislature doesn't have the power to change the state Constitution.

Even more troublesome is wording in the amendment that limits both criminal and civil liability, Kelsey said. The civil immunity wording is included to protect patients from losing custody battles or employment actions because they use medical marijuana, proponents say, but Kelsey warned it could cover much more.

"No other state extends it to civil immunity," she said. "We would be the only one that says there's no civil liability for whatever we do."

Widespread support for the amendment, tracking as high as 82 percent, comes down to people not understanding the proposal as it's written, Kelsey said.

"People are totally uneducated about it," the sheriff said, adding that the Amendment 2 campaign was "subterfuge" to legalize the drug. "This is disingenuous, calling this medical marijuana."

Contact Joshua Gillin at jgillin@tampabay.com. Follow @jpgillin.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. President Donald Trump speaks at the Economic Club of New York at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    The explanation gets complicated.
  2. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Florida lawmakers agreed the state’s old drug sentencing laws went too far. But that means nothing to people serving time.
  3. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  4. Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, was the sponsor of a law that was to go into effect Friday that would have created new requirements for abortion doctors that could have limited the number of clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out similar Texas restrictions, raising doubt about the fate of Florida's new law. [Scott Keeler | Times]
    The delay, which kicks a vote on the bill into mid-December, could stall what may be one of state lawmakers’ most contentious decisions on a political live wire going into a presidential election...
  5. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  6. Morton Myers, 40, is an entrepreneur, a lifelong Clearwater resident and now a candidate for mayor who comes from a family of Scientologists. He says he is not a practicing Scientologist and is running to bring change and representation to all residents. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Morton Myers says he’s not an active member. But with family on Scientology’s staff, he says he’s uniquely positioned to find middle ground with the church.
  7. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    “People are going to discover all over again what Pam Bondi’s made of,” says the consultant who engineered her foray into politics 10 years ago.
  8. President Donald Trump speaks at New York City's 100th annual Veterans Day parade, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) SETH WENIG  |  AP
    Trump will speak at the Hollywood summit on Saturday, Dec. 7 before traveling to Orlando for the Florida GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner, the Republican Party of Florida’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
  9. President Donald Trump speaks in front of a painting of former President George Washington in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 27. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Trump pointed to Washington as precedent for an active businessman serving as president.
  10. The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway was built in Tampa as toll road. Commissioners are divided over an elevated toll road proposed for southern Pasco.
    After frustration about their oversight of three potential new toll roads, the department moved up their timeline for scrutinizing the projects.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement