United for Care's Ben Pollara Counters Arguments by Anti-Medical-Marijuana Crowd

United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara announced in January that enough signatures had been collected to force a vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. He stopped gathering petitions and started working to get voters to the polls to vote in favor of the constitutional amendment this November.

While polls show that the measure has a high likelihood of passing, several opponents of medical marijuana are campaigning against the initiative, stressing pot's addictive properties and already-legal alternatives.

Pollara spoke up to counter four of their main arguments.

Simply refer to this blog the next time your grandma tries to compare Amendment 2 to Reefer Madness at the dinner table.

See also: Florida Medical Marijuana's Biggest Opponents and Threats

#1: Medical marijuana will destroy families like alcohol and other drugs have. "Florida voters understand that passing Amendment 2 will grant medical marijuana access to really sick people. Conversations of addiction are not really germane. And to the effect that it is, common substitutes prescribed to use instead of medical marijuana are opiates, which are highly addictive. Using medical marijuana legally should decrease addictions in Florida to Oxycodone and Percocet."

#2: The medical marijuana issue is a Republican versus Democrat issue. "Medical marijuana is a nonpartisan issue. In a poll conducted by Republicans in Republican-held state senate districts, 78 percent supported medical marijuana. And in the polls we conducted, that number has always been well above 50 percent."

#3: Children do not need medical marijuana to treat epilepsy since there are clinical trials they can participate in. "Kevin [Sabet] is talking about clinical trials on CBD-based pharmaceuticals. It doesn't take into account kids suffering from seizures because they can't apply to be in study since it doesn't exist in Florida. It's like applying to Harvard. Parents are desperate. I'm not a parent, but I would want treatment for my child immediately and not wait. Medical marijuana is not particularly dangerous, and suffering children shouldn't have to wait for any real pharmaceutical research."

#4: The wording in the amendment is too lenient and will make medical marijuana available to anyone. "If there was any doubt, the Florida Supreme Court has already ruled that the amendment will only be used in cases of debilitating illness. The purpose of the amendment is to allow the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. In its wording, the amendment specifically says 'Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.'"

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson