FAU students voice libertarian support for medical cannabis at forum
October 9, 2014Last night, October 8, 2014, there was a debate in Boca Raton regarding Florida’s Amendment 2 – whether to allow patients to legally use cannabis for a variety of diseases. The debate happened on the Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus, courtesy of the James Madison Institute, the Apgar Foundation and FAU’s popular Political Science Professor Marshall DeRosa.Participants in the discussion were Dr. Jessica Spencer (Statewide Coalition Director for Vote No on Amendment 2), Ben Pollara (Campaign Manager forUnited for Care) and Bill Wohlsifer(Candidate for Florida Attorney General). The event was originally scheduled to include a debate between the three attorney general candidates; however, after Wohlsifer won Monday’s attorney general debate in St. Petersburg, the other two candidates chose not to attend in Boca Raton. Wohslifer attended the event offering himself as a source of legal information, rather than as a candidate for elective office.Dr. Spencer was the only person in the room who arrived and left the event with a FAU police escort. [Update: A previous version of this article mistook the FAU police escort for Boca Raton Police. We apologize for the error] She began and ended her opening comments with misinformation such as nine Floridians were dying each day due to Florida’s so-called pill mills – a number that was debunked a few years ago. She failed to include information that once the so-called pill mills were more or less shut down, illegal heroin use in Florida skyrocketed to fill the void. She also stated, “We don’t smoke our medicine.” This has been a typical misinformation scare tactic by those opposed to helping patients get the help offered by cannabis. Using fear tactics, the people Dr. Spencer work for are working to fill images in the heads of Floridians that the bulk of state residents will suddenly be non-productive citizens as they toke on joints. Ingestion of medical cannabis can come in many forms including vaporization and included in foods. There are also many different forms of cannabis, some allowing for a high and others that do not. A student I spoke with briefly after the event, who did not wish to be identified, summed up Dr. Spencer’s presentation as being “a shill for the big pharmaceutical companies.” Dr. Spencer admitted that marijuana does have many medical beneficial properties, she is just against some of the wording of the amendment. She said that pharmaceutical companies just need a few more years to develop their versions of medical cannabis they are already working on.Pollara was next up with his opening comments and admitted he is not a fan of constitutional amendments and would prefer laws be implemented in the Florida legislature. Yet he said, “They have failed us again and again and again on this issue. The state legislature would not even give any of the medical marijuana bills a fair hearing and they all died in committee.”Pollara was describing the last several years of efforts to introduce a medical cannabis bill in the Florida Senate and House, when the Republican controlled legislature made certain those bills would never come up for a vote. In 2014, the Florida legislature did pass a highly-restrictive and a crony capitalistic medical marijuana bill, which left the bulk of Florida patients without the medical help they need. It also offered Republicans some political cover in the 2014 general election to suggest they are pro-medical marijuana when most are not.Pollara also mentioned in a rebuttal to Dr. Spencer, that children are routinely prescribed synthetic drugs offered by pharmaceutical companies; yet, Spencer’s organization demonizes the idea children will have access to cannabis. He emphasized, that a doctor would need to approve medical cannabis use for Floridians and Republicans already passed the so-called “Charlotte’s Web” bill, which is geared mostly to children.The mainstream media chose to pack and up leave rather than cover the most interesting aspect of the Amendment 2 debate – Bill Wohlsifer. Wohlsifer stated how he crafted the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act and was hopeful the Florida legislature would vote on it; however, each time it was introduced by Lake Worth Representative ( and now Florida Senator ) Jeff Clemens, it would die in committee. Wohlsifer shared Pollara’s disdain for the Florida legislature in not properly representing the Florida citizens, which necessitated the effort to bring Amendment 2 up for a vote into the Florida Constitution.Mr. Wohlsifer, who recently received endorsements from former Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates Gov. Gary Johnson and Judge Jim Gray, stated in the Attorney General debate on Monday, “It was a dereliction of duty for [Pam Bondi] to not reschedule Cannabis after SB1030 was passed…” Judge Jim Gray, a nationally known and respected author and speaker who has long advocated reform of the nation’s drug law. Judge Gray, one of the principal sponsors of a 2012 California ballot initiative to regulate cannabis production and consumption similarly to wine, said he applauds Bill’s efforts in drafting the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act. Gray strongly recommends Bill Wohlsifer for Florida’s next Attorney General.Near the end, Professor DeRosa stated, “By what authority does the government have the ability” to decide whether Floridians possess or use a plant. He also stated a truth that no matter if Amendment 2 passes or is rejected on November 4, 2014, there are people that will profit either way. This is why there is such a strong effort on both sides of the issue. DeRosa is often thought of as the smartest man in the room, and last night showed no exception.Article: http://www.examiner.com/article/fau-students-voice-libertarian-support-for-medical-cannabis-at-forum