Following her vote against an amendment to a bill in Congress that would restrict federal agents’ ability to go after marijuana users in states where the drug is legal, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has also come out against Amendment 2, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida.
The reasoning behind her opposition of the two items is quite different, however. According to her communications director, Sean Bartlett, voted against the federal amendment because “The congresswoman believes that it is not appropriate to limit the ability of the Executive Branch to enforce federal law at their discretion.”
But when it comes to Amendment 2, the congresswoman’s reasons fall in line with those of many who are already opposed to the state constitutional amendment. “I have concerns that it is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials,” she said in a prepared statement.
“Other states have shown that lax oversight and ease of access to prescriptions can lead to abuse, fraud, and accidents. Also, given Florida’s recent history in combating the epidemic of ‘pill mills’ and dubious distinction as having among the highest incidents of fraud, I do not believe we should make it easier for those seeking to abuse the drug to have easy access to it.”
These reasons – that the amendment has a lack of oversight and development of marijuana dispensaries would echo the explosion of pill mills in Florida – are similar to those given by Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot, the anti-amendment 2 campaign started by the Florida Sheriff’s Association and Drug Free Florida. This places Wasserman Schultz, who is also the chair of the Democratic National Committee, in unusual company, with the FSA run by Republican Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and the Drug Free Florida committee chaired by Carlton Turner who, back when he was Ronald Reagan’s drug czar, once claimed that marijuana use led to homosexuality and, from there, AIDS.
Turner’s group recently produced a video that cited four loopholes in amendment 2. One of them was the so-called “pill mill” loophole, which will ostensibly allow dispensaries to pop up on every street corner. But the amendment does have wording that states it is the duty of the Florida Department of Health to implement “procedures for the registration of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension, and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.”
United for Care, the group responsible for getting Amendment 2 on the ballot, was swift in its denunciation of Wasserman Schultz.
“She was irrelevant in the Democratic Party before this, now she is siding with Pam Bondi and Rick Scott,” read a statement from John Morgan, a prominent Central Florida lawyer who is the chairman of United for Care. “I have removed her from my contacts. She should switch parties. She is neither compassionate nor progressive.”
United for Care’s campaign manager, Ben Pollara, was similarly angered. “It’s difficult to say whether Ms. Wasserman Schultz believes sick people should be kept from their medicine, or whether she thinks the public servants at the Department of Health are incompetent and would implement the amendment irresponsibly,” he said. “But both positions are puzzling, unfortunate and wrong.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun