Charles Parker: Medical Marijuana Back On Ballot In 2016

By  //  January 13, 2015

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Crisafulli should launch a pre-emptive strike

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Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The fight for medical marijuana in Florida has not gone away – even though a constitutional amendment to approve it did not reach the required 60 percent threshold last November.

The vote did garner almost 58 percent – more than either candidate for governor, supporters say.

John Morgan

John Morgan

John Morgan – Orlando trial lawyer and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist benefactor – said last week that he will be laying out the cash to gain 700,000 petition signatures by March and attempting to get a changed amendment back on the ballot in 2016 – when the next presidential contest will be held.

Many believe that – while he touts a personal story regarding his disabled brother as his motivation (and that motivation should not be questioned) – Morgan also assuredly wants to ramp up the liberal vote in election years. His push for the amendment in 2014 didn’t get Crist in the Governor’s Mansion and there’s little substantiated data as to whether conservative vs. liberal turnout on this measure made any difference anyway.

Steve Crisafulli

Steve Crisafulli

Regardless of this though, the Florida legislature – led by Merritt Island’s Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli – should launch a pre-emptive strike against Morgan and his amendment backers and pass a medical marijuana bill that the governor can sign.

It makes sense – in policy, in practicality, and in politics.

Policy

Morgan has already altered the amendment from 2014 to tighten it up and make it even more amenable to voters.

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Proposals include targeting specific types of diseases and medical conditions for which it can be prescribed, criminally charging doctors who mis-prescribe or over-prescribe, and requiring parental approval for a prescription for children under the age of 18.

All of these are reasonable changes and should close loopholes enough to satisfy some critics, particularly the statewide sheriffs groups who have come out against medical marijuana.

Let’s be honest…if oxycodone and other like narcotics can be legally prescribed…why not a pill with some pot in it?

ABOVE VIDEO: Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey sat down with SpaceCoastDaily.com to discuss the ramifications of the medical marijuana bill prior to the vote last November for its legalization. Sixty-three of the 67 sheriffs in Florida opposed the bill, which required a 60 percent approval for passage. The vote did garner almost 58 percent – more than either candidate for governor, supporters say.

Practicality

It is makes more sense for the legislature and governor to handle this than it does for a constitutional amendment to mandate it. It would give Tallahassee an opportunity to tweak the law down the road as new research and technology force changes to required dosages and bio-delivery methods.

It is makes more sense for the legislature and governor to handle this than it does for a constitutional amendment to mandate it. It would give Tallahassee an opportunity to tweak the law down the road as new research and technology force changes to required dosages and bio-delivery methods.

As well, it will give the state more opportunity to write and amend rules and regulations as social tides ebb and flow. Finally, it could even be structured so that there is some state revenue attached that could go to drug treatment.

Politics

Florida is a purple state. Voter turnout will be the key to electing a conservative president – both here and around the country. Republicans should do everything they can to keep any potential initiatives off the ballot that could put their candidate at a disadvantage. Many in the GOP oppose medical marijuana on moral grounds and the Republican nominee could be in that camp. Removing it from the playing field removes a potential barrier for a conservative nominee.

Let’s hope for the sake of many with chronic pain and illness that the Republican leadership in the capital has compassion for their plight and is also savvy enough to understand the political metrics of this issue. Call on your legislator to pass a targeted medical marijuana bill in this legislative session.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday. 

He is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.

Charles Parker

Charles Parker

Currently, Parker is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.

Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.

Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.

You can reach him at cpbrevard@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cpbrevard_scd

AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College, or Valencia College.


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