Weeding through issues at medical marijuana debate

FELLSMERE — The pros and cons of a controversial issue were debated Thursday night at a public forum on the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Amendment 2. 

Around 40 people, including Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry, two Fellsmere police officers and City Manager Jason Nunemaker, attended the forum at the City Hall Auditorium. It was moderated by Beth Mitchell, president and CEO of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, and lasted about an hour.

Representing the “vote yes” campaign was Benjamin Pollara, campaign manager for UnitedForCare.org; representing the “vote no” campaign was Dr. Jessica Spencer, policy director for VoteNo2.org. 

The questions addressed by participants concerned the many ramifications of legalizing medical marijuana. Among her arguments Spencer said “it’s not a benign plant … We are not dealing with the pot of the ’60s and ’70s.” Pollara, meanwhile, stated that “marijuana helps people.” He further pointed out that it is not a novel concept, and that medical marijuana is legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Pollara and Spencer have participated in this type of forum 20 times already across Florida. While Spencer stated that Amendment 2 is not perfect, Pollara rebutted: “There is no such thing as a perfect amendment.”

No. 2

Constitutional Amendment

Article X, Section 29

Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Increased costs from this amendment to state and local governments cannot be determined. There will be additional regulatory costs and enforcement activities associated with the production, sale, use and possession of medical marijuana. Fees may offset some of the regulatory costs. Sales tax will likely apply to most purchases, resulting in a substantial increase in state and local government revenues that cannot be determined precisely. The impact on property tax revenues cannot be determined.

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