As Election Day wound down, the breaking news of Amendment Two’s failing results shocked Floridians everywhere. I remained among the few who were not disappointed by the outcome as I voted no. While I don’t support the recreational use of marijuana and have never participated in it, I do believe that people who need it for medical reasons should have access. I voted no because medical marijuana already exists in the state of Florida. It was shocking to see how many people were aggravated by Tuesday night’s results when plenty of people already have access to medical marijuana if they need it. On June 14, 2014, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law allowing limited use of a special strain of marijuana for patients with epilepsy and other serious diseases, according to The Huffington Post, and therefore, I’m a little confused as to why everyone is so upset.
Amendment Two was just shy of the passing threshold on Tuesday, coming up with only 58 percent of the vote while it needed 60 percent to pass, according to The Washington Post. However, the amendment’s chances did not look promising during the days leading up to the big day. A poll done by Gravis Marketing just days before the election reported that only 50 percent of Florida voters were planning on voting yes on Amendment Two, and 42 percent said they were going to vote no.
People like me who voted no are mostly worried about people finding loopholes in the “poorly written amendment,” according to The Huffington Post. It was a concern that the language used left huge holes that could have lead to widespread use of marijuana among perfectly healthy Floridians, according to the Sun Sentinel. The strain of marijuana that was signed into law back in June will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, according to The Huffington Post. The strain is called Charlotte’s Web, and it is a form of cannabis that is low in THC, the chemical responsible for the high experienced after consuming marijuana, according to livescience.com.
This specific strain is high in a chemical called CBD that helps treat severe seizures caused by epilepsy, and it also helps patients with cancer. It got its name from a seven-year-old girl from Colorado named Charlotte Figi who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, according to The Huffington Post. Traditional medications have failed to help Figi with her seizures, but she was able to find relief with this specific strain of medical marijuana.
I am highly concerned that most people just want Amendment Two to go through because it would bring us a step closer to legalizing recreational marijuana. This fight should be for those that need this medicine because they are seriously ill, and not those that like to be high all the time.
The exit poll showed a large increase in the turnout of voters from 18 to 29 compared to the 2010 election, according to The Washington Post. It jumped from eight percent to 14 percent. I feel these numbers show how young people were more motivated to vote in hopes of Amendment Two passing for possibly the wrong reasons. Seniors in Florida make up a quarter of the electorate and 40 percent of them are not for medical marijuana use which definitely had a huge effect on the outcome of Amendment Two, according to The Washington Post. Young people are going to have to overcome the majority of the older crowd that occupies Florida to get this amendment to pass.
Treatment professionals are also among those that oppose medical and recreational use of marijuana, as they see it as an addicting substance, according to The Huffington Post. These professionals are also backed by associations like the Drug Free America Foundation.
On the medical side of things, opposition comes from the Florida Medical Association, even though they do support the use of the strain of marijuana that was recently signed into law. Their reason for opposing the use of it to accommodate illnesses comes from a lack of substantial research when medicinally used in their opinion, according to The Huffington Post.
They are also in agreement with a recent statement made by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) who believes that “cannabis, cannabis-based products, and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medications and medical devices and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration,” according to The Huffington Post.
I completely agree with this statement as well. If marijuana is going to be used in the medical field, it should be held to the same standards as other prescription medications. It shouldn’t just get a free pass. This will also ensure that the drug is completely safe for doctors to prescribe and safe for patients to consume.
However, a special “catch 22” stands in the way of FDA approval, according to The Huffington Post. In 1970 when the Controlled Substance Act was established under federal law, marijuana was classified as a schedule one drug and still is today. This puts marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, meth and peyote. This category of drugs is defined as having a high potential for abuse and therefore not acceptable when it comes to medical use, according to The Huffington Post. I would definitely have to agree that this is a misclassification of marijuana as it is nowhere near as dangerous as the other drugs in this particular category.
Also, marijuana has been found to have a positive effect on patients with “debilitating medical conditions” like cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient,” according to ballotpedia.org. With that being said, I can definitely see medical marijuana returning to the ballot in the future, and most likely passing.
“While it’s disappointing that patients in Florida won’t be able to find legal relief with marijuana just yet,” said Tom Angell, a Marijuana Majority chairman, in a statement to The Huffington Post, “tonight’s result does show that a clear majority of voters in the sunshine state support a new direction.” He feels that patients and marijuana supporters “will keep pushing until the law reflects what most voters want.” I totally agree here. Floridians are definitely going to see a newer different version of this amendment for the next time it goes on the ballot. They will keep trying to evolve it into something the majority will vote into law.
Florida was not the only state that had marijuana on their ballot on Tuesday. Voters living in Washington D.C., Oregon and Alaska decided on the use of recreational cannabis, according to The Huffington Post. It’s not hard to see that a lot of states, and even the nation’s capital are moving more and more toward relaxed laws when it comes to marijuana and I have a feeling that Florida will soon join the ranks of the laxed.
As for me, I will continue to vote no as I feel that the current law in place is sufficient enough for those who need it for medical reasons. For right now, the voters who share my views make up the majority, but it might not be that way for long.
Caitlin Malone can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org