Medical marijuana debated in Bradenton

Lawn signs about Amendment 2 were placed outside the Bradenton Woman’s Club on Monday as the medical marijuana amendment became a focal point of a luncheon.

During Monday’s League of Women Voters of Manatee County luncheon, Raymer Maguire, with United for Care, spoke in favor of the proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution while Jessica Spencer with Vote No on Amendment 2 spoke against. The three other proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the Nov. 8 election ballot were also briefly covered.

“If the Florida Legislature had passed any adequate law in the last six sessions where medical marijuana bills were introduced, we would not be here today,” Maguire said.

The Florida Legislature is where the medical marijuana issue belongs rather than as a constitutional amendment, Spencer said.

“We have to have specific language, specific regulations, specific zoning, etc., which we do not have in this language,” she said. “Shame on United for Care for not going in here and fixing their language. ...This amendment is about de facto legalization of marijuana. Please read the language. The potenancy issue is critical. The edible issue and oil issue is critical.”

In 2014, a medical marijuana amendment did not pass as it fell short of the required 60 percent threshold. As a proponent of the 2016 amendment, Maguire argued that issues have been addressed but opponent Spencer said there are still issues in the proposed amendment.

“I don’t think any doctor would consider a sore throat or a hurt elbow a debilitating condition, let alone a debilitating condition comparable to cancer, PTSD, epilepsy or AIDS,” Maguire said. “Amendment 2, just like in 2014, is not a guaranteed win. It is not a guaranteed pass.”

The lack of background checks for caregivers and the fact that it is not just limited to Florida residents are some of the issues, Spencer said Monday.

“It says the same thing as it did in 2014 and unfortunately, they took it out of the role of doctors and they left it up to individual doctors,” she said. “This plant has over 500 chemicals in it. This is not how we do medicine. ...We can’t risk our children. We can’t risk our communities for this. This is not how we do medicine.”

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson