The following is a guest editorial appeared in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze for the October 17, 2014 edition:
It is my belief that the legalization of marijuana is a bad decision for our citizens and I stand in opposition to Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana).
Consequences of Amendment 2, should it become a part of the Florida Constitution:
- Amendment 2 is vague, and is based on the premise that the State will be able to adopt and enforce regulations for the possession, cultivation, delivery, and sale of marijuana. However, due to Amendment 2 being part of the constitution, any attempt to adopt regulations that do not meet the "plain meaning" of the amendment will be challenged and ultimately invalidated. Any unintended consequences as a result of Amendment 2 cannot be fixed without voter approval through a ballot process.
- Amendment 2 guarantees that caregivers, physicians, and treatment centers are not subject to criminal law, civil liability, or sanctions under state law.
- Amendment 2 allows for limitless use for "other conditions" as recommended by a physician, meaning he or she could allow just about any person access to marijuana, creating the potential for widespread drug abuse. Note, it would be an order from a physician not a prescription. A prescription would violate federal law, as marijuana remains a federally banned non FDA approved substance. There is also great concern for our youth, as marijuana would be readily available and easy to obtain by teenagers. In Colorado, the marijuana use among those under the age of eighteen is 50 percent higher than the national average.
- Amendment 2 does not limit the form in which marijuana can be sold and used. It may be smoked, made into oil (a very dangerous process), made into pills or aerosols, or placed in food which has the potential of falling into the hands of children. There have been cases of marijuana laced candy being taken by children, and teenager's mistakenly eating marijuana laced candy bars. Without dosage controls in edible products, those eating marijuana can place themselves, and others, in harm's way. There have been several incidents in Colorado in which this has occurred.
- The dangers of marijuana use are well documented and most recently have been proven by the increase in crimes and impaired drivers in states that have passed legislation legalizing the drug. Emergency room marijuana admissions have increased, pet poisoning incidents increased, and the number of marijuana-addicted users in treatment centers has increased.
- Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 Drug under Federal Law, which creates direct conflict with State Law. Although the Department of Justice has provided guidance on enforcement issues, financial institutions are reluctant to do business with marijuana dispensaries, turning them into cash businesses, which typically invite a host of criminal activity and law enforcement issues, such as burglary and theft, as well as violent crimes such as robbery, battery, and aggravated assault.
- Amendment 2 does not contain provisions for background checks, training, or credentials of any type for marijuana distributers (basically legalized drug dealers), who will be selling the drug in an estimated 1800 pot shops statewide.
However, as a public servant it is my job to enforce laws and support and uphold the Constitutions of the United States and State of Florida. Should the people of Florida vote yes for Amendment 2, I will support the decision and do my best to ensure the safety and security of all of our citizens as we move forward together.
About the Author:
Chief Bart Connelly is the eighth law enforcement professional to hold the title of Chief of Police here at the Cape Coral Police Department. Chief Connelly holds an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice from Edison College, a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from Barry University, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the 240th session of the FBI National Academy, the 10th session of the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute Senior Leadership Program and the 35th session of the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police. Bart serves on the Florida Police Chiefs Association Training Committee and is a Certified Assessor/Team Leader for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.