'Yes' on Florida's medical cannabis amendment, 'No' on deceitful solar measure

Advertising by proponents of the solar energy constitutional Amendment 1 on the ballot deceives voters into thinking this will encourage rooftop installations by property owners. It won’t.

Opponents of the medical marijuana Amendment 2 are mounting a similar misleading campaign, this one designed to create fear. It does.

Medical marijuana

Claim: “Because there’s no local option to allow communities to ban, limit or restrict the location of pot shops. If Amendment 2 passes you can expect the seedy elements of the pot industry to move in right next door to your neighborhood, your church, your business and even your child’s school,” an anti-Amendment 2 pamphlet warns.

That’s not so. The amendment language is very specific on key points in that assertion: “The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.” The proposal also charges the Legislature and Florida Department of Health with spelling out specific details that implement medical marijuana — and that includes the number of cannabis dispensaries and their location. Since the state will regulate the centers, “seedy elements” is a transparent attempt at fear-mongering.

Amendment 2 was also designed to require the state to regulate marijuana production and distribution centers and issue identification cards for qualifying patients and caregivers, not just anyone.

While it’s true the amendment text does not make any provisions for local legislation, the Legislature would ultimately decide whether local jurisdictions could adopt ordinances to regulate dispensaries. County and city governments across the state are laying the groundwork for local ordinances, including Manatee County.

Manatee commissioners began the process Tuesday by setting December dates for the first two public hearings on an ordinance that places a 180-day moratorium on the establishment of dispensaries — a prudent response considering voter surveys show the amendment passing.

The measure was written to explicitly allow medical marijuana to treat patients with specific diseases: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis or “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated.”

Does that last phrase open the door to abuse and cannabis for lesser conditions? Doctors must sign a “physician certification” of an individual’s need for medical cannabis for a debilitating condition only after conducting a physical exam and assessment of the patient’s medical history. Reputations and careers would be on the line for fraudulent physician recommendations.

Unlike the infamous pill mills where physicians both prescribed and sold pain medications and other narcotics freely and openly, only a regulated “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” can produce and distribute medical cannabis, and qualifying patients and caregivers must carry state-issued identification cards, thus disqualifying out-of-state residents from coming to Florida to buy pot.

As previously stated, the Herald Editorial Board recommends a yes vote on this initiative.

Solar power

Deceptive television commercials and mailers, bankrolled by Florida’s utility industry giants, tout Amendment 1 as a way to allow property owners to “strengthen your right to generate your own solar energy ... protect consumers, particularly our seniors, from scam artists ... and protect consumers who don’t choose solar from having to pay higher monthly electric bills.” The ballot initiative deceives voters into believing this is a pro-solar measure when it could accomplish the exact opposite by restricting the market for rooftop solar and obstructing growth in the solar market.

Amendment 1 is nothing more than a scam designed to protect utility monopolies from competition and choice in a free market and safeguard profits. The initiative would enshrine current law into the Constitution and eliminate the threat by the solar industry to remove the current ban on third-party sales and allow customers to lease solar power to neighbors.

The effort by Floridians for Solar Choice to get a ballot initiative before voters to erase that ban foundered when the organization failed to collect enough signatures. But the organization vows to bring the measure before voters in 2018.

At a conference this month, a vice president of the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute outlined the utility game plan of using “the language of promoting solar” to gain an advantage — thus admitting the industry deception. That deceit began with the title of Amendment 1: Consumers for Smart Solar.

Don’t fall for the utility fiction that the measure promotes “sensible, fair and safe expansion of solar energy in Florida.”

Also as stated earlier, the Herald Editorial Board recommends a no vote on this amendment.