Florida Doesn’t Need 2,000 Pot Shops
In 1996, California voters were duped into passing a “medical marijuana” initiative just like Amendment 2 that John Morgan and other trial lawyers are currently peddling in Florida. Just like in California, Amendment 2 preys on our compassion for those with serious illnesses, but it’s really a thinly veiled effort to legalize pot – a new industry other trial lawyers are now investing in.
At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, our mission is to promote a business-friendly climate to help secure Florida’s future. Amendment 2, however, would be an economic setback for Florida because of the broad access, and lax controls it would provide for a drug which contains 10 times the level of THC as existed in the days of Woodstock.
What would be the real impact if Amendment 2 passes? Thankfully, state economists have already answered that question. Based on data from states that have passed similar measures, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) estimated that if Amendment 2 passes, there will be approximately 440,552 users with approximately 2,000 dispensaries, or pot shops as they are known in other states. To put that in perspective, under Amendment 2 there would be more pot shops in Florida than McDonald’s, Starbucks’ and 7-Eleven’s combined.
Florida voters don’t need to look any further than California to understand how devastating nearly 2,000 pot shops in the Sunshine State would be. Even the co-author of California’s medical marijuana initiative admitted: “most of the dispensaries operating in California are little more than dope dealers with storefronts.” And since the amendment fails to establish where these dispensaries can and cannot setup shop, the seedy elements of the pot industry could locate near your home, your family’s favorite restaurant, your children’s school or recreation center.
The Marijuana Policy Project – a lobbying group for full marijuana legalization – is now trying to alleviate our concern by downplaying the number of pot shops Florida can expect to have. Why? Because they know Floridians will be justifiably concerned about the ramifications of our state being flooded with so-called medical marijuana treatment centers that look more like bong shops than legitimate pharmacies. Just google “medical marijuana treatment centers California” to see what’s waiting for Florida, it’s not a pretty picture and it’s one reason we can’t support Amendment 2.
Over the years, the Florida Chamber has championed several reforms to Florida’s constitutional initiative process. One such reform, approved by 78 percent of Florida voters, requires an independent financial analysis of each amendment on the ballot so that voters will know the types of impacts proposed amendments will have. By the way, we predicted special interests would one day try to put drugs in Florida’s Constitution. You can see that 2006 TV commercial at www.FloridaChamber.com/TrialLawyersWantDrugsinFlorida.
In the case of Amendment 2, an independent team of economists surveyed numerous state agencies, spent hundreds of hours studying the impacts of Amendment 2, and held over 12 hours of public meetings. This process allows proponents and opponents of an amendment to question their analysis, suggest alternatives, or even challenge the Financial Impact Statement before the Florida Supreme Court, which has the power to send it back to the analysts to review and re-draft.
The sponsors of Amendment 2 never once questioned the number of pot shops or users that these state economists predicted. In fact, far from questioning the results, Amendment 2’s campaign manager said there could be as many as 5,000 [EO1] pot shops in Florida. So when you hear the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying arm of the marijuana industry say don’t worry, be happy – you should worry.
Florida’s focus should be on creating good private-sector jobs for everyone and improving education, not on making pot legal and calling it “medicine.” We stand at a crossroads – will we go the way of California and Colorado allowing 2,000 pot shops to be crammed into Florida? Or will we reject this thinly veiled attempt to legalize marijuana and keep Florida’s job climate competitive? I hope you will join me in securing Florida’s future by voting No on Amendment 2.