This November, Florida voters will decide the fate of Amendment 2, which would allow marijuana to be recommended for medical purposes. If passed, this amendment would be enshrined in the state's constitution, and essentially, Florida could not turn back.
Before they vote, Floridians need to know that a majority of the state's physicians and other professional medical associations do not support Amendment 2. That is telling. This amendment has been created, financed and pushed by attorneys, trial lawyers and political operatives; the most prominent of these is John Morgan, one of the state's most prolific trial lawyers.
In July, the Florida Medical Association voted overwhelmingly to oppose Amendment 2. Also, at least a dozen major medical associations oppose such measures, including the nation's largest physicians' group, the American Medical Association; the American Cancer Society; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Glaucoma Society; and the American Psychiatric Association.
If one of my family members or I were seriously injured due to the gross negligence of someone else, I would probably consider seeking the advice of Morgan or another equally prominent trial lawyer. But for medical questions — particularly those dealing with a drug that has no medical protocols or dosage regimen, and has not received Food and Drug Administration approval — I would seek the advice of medical professionals.
Amendment 2 proponents have cast themselves as only wanting to help those with "debilitating diseases." However, their amendment contains the words "or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks of a patient." That's just too vague and would open the door for marijuana to be recommended for virtually any condition; that's a prescription for fraud and abuse. In fact, in testimony before the Florida Supreme Court, lawyers for Amendment 2 said that a student stressed out over exams could be given pot if that were appropriate in the opinion of a doctor.
When you look closely, Amendment 2 really does look like the work of lawyers and not of physicians. This is not simple legislation; this is an amendment to Florida's Constitution. I urge Floridians to think this through carefully.
Eric A. Voth, M.D., is the chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy. He has served as an adviser to the Reagan, Clinton, both Bush, and Obama administrations.