Last Wednesday the Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot campaign held a press conference in Tallahassee in opposition to Amendment 2, an initiative on the ballot this November that would legalize a broader medical cannabis program in the Sunshine State. The coalition is made up of groups such as the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, among others.

Colorado Lawyer Urges Floridians To Reject Amendment 2

Rachel O'BryanRachel O’Bryan, a Colorado attorney and mother was brought to Florida by the Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot campaign to join with them at the press conference. O’Bryan claims she was involved in helping state officials develop regulations after voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis in Colorado. She serves as the spokeswoman for Smart Colorado, a non-profit group that advocates for minimizing the consequences of marijuana legalization. Colorado voters approved medical cannabis legalization with Amendment 20 in 2000, and legalized recreational cannabis with Amendment 64 in 2012. O’Bryan believes Florida is going down the same path as Colorado. “Imagine a Florida where it’s more convenient to buy marijuana than it is to buy a Starbucks Grande latte, a Big Mac… that’s the situation we have in Denver,” O’Bryan told reporters. “It will allow the use of marijuana for any medical condition. It will allow teenagers to obtain it. It will allow for the development of marijuana foods, including candies that will appeal to kids.” “It’s an onion, people, we are unwrapping it and every layer brings something new.” O’Bryan believes that people will abuse medical cannabis, even if the state says it will be tightly regulated. “Every state says they’re going to do a better job.”

Florida Sheriff Speaks Out Against Medical Cannabis

While the Florida Sheriffs Association supported the low-THC medical cannabis legislation SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, the Sheriffs Association came out strongly opposed to Amendment 2 and the broader legalization of medical cannabis. Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger also spoke at the group’s press conference. He said Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot was formed because of the, “overwhelming concern we have for Florida youth,” and their desire to educate people about the, “ill effects of legal marijuana.” “All we have to do really is look at other states and see where they have legalized marijuana and the challenges they face on a daily basis,” Sheriff Eslinger told reporters. “More dispensaries than Starbucks, their [the Department of Health’s] own numbers estimate 789 dispensaries or treatment centers within Florida.”

Drug Free America Foundation Says Medical Cannabis is Not About Medicine

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.Also speaking at the press conference was Calvina Fay, the Executive Director for the Drug Free America Foundation, a Florida based prohibition advocacy group.“Let’s not kid ourselves, this [Amendment 2] will be a de facto legalization,” Calvina told reporters. “A big marijuana industry will be legalized if it passes, and make no mistake, it will be promoted to kids. I can assure you, it’s not about medicine.” Fay believes the State of Colorado has seen an increase in-car crashes, DUIs and fatal accidents.

Government Statistics Contradict Drug Free America Foundation’s Claims

However,  total traffic fatalities have fallen as cannabis consumption has increased. In 2012 there were about 20% less traffic fatalities than in 2002. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report from 1993 concluded that, “The impairment [from cannabis] manifests itself mainly in the ability to maintain a lateral position on the road, but its magnitude is not exceptional in comparison with changes produced by many medicinal drugs and alcohol. Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance and will compensate when they can, for example, by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.”

Other data seems to also contradict Calvina and other members of the Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot Campaign who say legalization has led to increased crime. In April of this year, Colorado’s Department of Public Safety released data that showed that compared to the same time period in 2013, overall property crime fell by 14.6% in Denver, homicide rates fell by 66.7% while the number of robberies decreased by 7%. Other violent offenses have remained the same or increased.

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