Sponsors of a ballot amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida say the recent opposition to the amendment by a state medical lobbying group is misguided.
The Florida Medical Association came out Monday against Amendment 2, saying the measure doesn’t properly protect patients.
In criticizing the amendment, the organization urged its membership to refuse to prescribe medical marijuana if the amendment passes until products are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The amendment, which goes before Florida voters Nov. 4, would legalize medical marijuana in Florida for certain patients.
The announcement is the first criticism of the proposed amendment from a large medical organization and comes on the heels of the Legislature’s statewide legalization of “Charlotte’s Web,” a type of cannabis that is said to treat childhood seizures without getting the patient high.
United for Care has raised about $3.8 million from 2009 until July 25, 2014, according to Florida campaign finance data. In contrast, the Drug Free Florida Committee, which ran a “No on 2” campaign, has raised about $2.9 million from March until July.
“We believe the unintended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians,” said physician Alan Pillersdorf, association president, in a statement. “The lack of clear definitions in the amendment would allow health-care providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances, to order medical marijuana.”
United for Care, a pro-medical marijuana group that put Amendment 2 on November’s ballot, said it is “disappointed” by the Florida Medical Association’s stance against the amendment.
“The association’s stance apparently does not take into account the many scientific studies, as well as copious anecdotal evidence, pointing to the efficacy of medical marijuana in alleviating symptoms from a wide range of debilitating diseases and conditions,” the organization said in its statement.
John Morgan, United for Care chairman, said there are plenty of safeguards to protect patients, such as requiring a prescription from a doctor. “I don’t believe they speak for the doctors I’ve spoken to. I believe the leadership is more interested in the politicization of this than the real benefits,” Morgan said. “I trust [doctors] to do the right thing when they’re empowered with this.”
The Florida Medical Association, which represents 20,000 physicians, said the amendment doesn’t provide proper regulations to protect patients.
In a resolution by the organization’s legislative body, it said marijuana products should be subject to rules under the Food and Drug Administration and said smoking shouldn’t be allowed due to potential harm. The association disagreed with the ballot amendment because new medicine is being decided upon by individuals who aren’t qualified to make medical decisions.
Under the amendment, the Florida Department of Health would be responsible for the regulation of medical marijuana, including who can grow, dispense and sell the product.