It’s not surprising that both the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Medical Association oppose legalizing medicinal marijuana.
Expanding public access to legal marijuana is bad for business.
Locking people up for minor drug offenses and maintaining a monopoly on the bountiful pain-relief industry are two aspects of the status quo that law enforcement and physician groups have an interest in maintaining.
Sure, they dress up their concerns in different terms. But I don’t buy it.
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“The dangers of marijuana have been well documented in recent years with increased crime and traffic accidents in states that have passed legislation legalizing marijuana,” the Florida Sheriff’s Association announced.“For example, of the 20 states with the highest driver acknowledgement of drugged driving, 15 were states that have passed legislation legalizing marijuana.”
If that’s the case, then the effects of marijuana should be most evident in Colorado, the first state to legalize it for recreational use. But the opposite appears to be happening there.
When Colorado legalized possession of marijuana for adults, there was a 77-percent drop in marijuana drug offenses between 2012 and 2013, The Denver Post reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union found that 60 percent of drug arrests in Colorado had been for marijuana possession, and that blacks were arrested at nearly double the rate of whites before the drug became legal.
As for traffic safety, legalization of marijuana in Colorado has seemed to make the roads safer, not more dangerous.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana can stay in a person’s system for as long as a month even though the state of inebriation lasts a matter of hours. So it’s difficult to equate the detection of marijuana with driving under its influence.
This makes statistics on marijuana-related traffic crashes hard to measure accurately.
It’s better to look at traffic fatalities in Colorado before and after legalization. If marijuana has made roads more dangerous, you’d expect to see more traffic fatalities in the state since legalization. But that hasn’t been the case.
The Colorado State Patrol reported that the number of fatal crashes in that state dropped by 25.5 percent from 2013 to 2014 during the first quarters of those years.
And Radley Balko of The Washington Post looked at traffic fatalities in that state during the first seven months of every year over the past 13 years, and found that the roadway fatalities this year are lower than last year, and that both years are lower than the average over the past 13 years.
Could it be that the switch from alcohol to marijuana has made the roads safer? That fewer people are tanking up on alcohol in bars and then getting on the roads in states where marijuana is a legal alternative?
For reasons of control, the Florida physician’s group is against Amendment 2, the November ballot initiative that would allow marijuana to be used for pain relief to treat patients for debilitating diseases.
“We have come together to reject an Amendment that does not have the proper regulations in place, approves an unsafe method of drug delivery and puts a substance that has drug abuse potential in the hands of Floridians, if approved in November,” Florida Medical Association President Alan B. Pillersdorf, a Palm Beach County-based plastic surgeon, said via statement.
Doctors are the gate-keepers for a prescription-drug industry that dispenses pills for pain. It’s a business that’s abused by millions of people, killing about 150,000 of them a year, and costing health insurers about $72.5 billion a year to care for excess use, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What if people find safer, more effective pain relief from the legalized use of a plant, a plant that can be cultivated in the ground, rather than in a lab? A plant that kills no one from overdoses, but greatly affects the paved roads of influence built by the drug industry?
So I’m not surprised that the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Medical Association are in agreement on this issue. Whether you’re running a jail or a medical office, legalizing pot means fewer customers.
Email Frank Cerabino at firstname.lastname@example.org.