Mike G Law

Do you think Drug Free America should make marijuana policy?

Drug Free America and its lobbying arm, Save Our Society From Drugs, opposed last year's amendment to allow wider use of medical marijuana in Florida. Now, despite 71 percent of voters having an opposing view, the group is having a major impact on how the medical cannabis program is being structured. Some argue their impact is oversized.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Drug Free America sent lawmakers a list of suggestions, and 43 of them have already made it into the bill. By contrast, none of the language suggested by Florida for Care, one of the amendment's authors, made it into the bill.

"The suggestion that Drug Free America should be involved in the implementing language is absolutely ludicrous," says the executive director of Florida for Care. "If your whole goal is to say 'no' to something why should we take your advice in implementing it?"

A Times analysis of the 43 suggestions sent in by Drug Free America found that their effect will be to restrict access to medical marijuana. In an op-ed last week, the president of Florida for Care argued that accepting the anti-drug group's recommendations goes against the will of the voters.

Still, not all of Drug Free America's wish list was granted. For one, the group hoped medical marijuana would not be approved to treat chronic pain because that might promote abuse of marijuana. Their proposed language was not adopted by the legislature -- perhaps because marijuana abuse is profoundly less dangerous than abuse of opiates.

What did make it into the bill, for example, was a mandate that any doctor recommending medical marijuana must have at least a three-month relationship with the patient. Another key feature it pressed for was a prohibition against consuming medical marijuana via smoking.

Critics say the three-month relationship requirement will only serve to needlessly delay treatment. As for the prohibition on smoking the drug, it's unclear whether the group recommends that patients eat marijuana or use some form of synthetic cannabis. If the latter, it's important to realize that synthetic cannabis is more dangerous to consume than smoked marijuana.

Do you think it makes sense for opposition groups to have such a noticeable impact on legislation they oppose? What do you think of the actual changes they recommended?

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