Seven Former Florida Supreme Court Justices Join Fight Against Amendment 2

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Contact:
Sarah Bascom, sarah@bascomllc.com, 850.294.6636

Seven Former Florida Supreme Court Justices Join
Fight Against Amendment 2

Tallahassee, Fla. – Seven former Florida Supreme Court Justices have joined the fight against Amendment 2, voicing their legal concerns about the Amendment.  The Vote No on 2 Campaign seeks to stop the “Pot for Anyone and for Any Reason Campaign,” sending a message to all Floridians that Amendment 2 is bad for Florida and wrong for our future.

The former Florida Supreme Court Justices that have added their noted legal voices to the opposition, include:

Parker Lee McDonald, Chief Justice 1986-1988; Justice 1979-1994
Leander J. Shaw, Jr., Chief Justice 1990-1992; Justice 1983-2003
Stephen H. Grimes, Chief Justice 1994-1996; Justice 1987-1997
Major B. Harding, Chief Justice 1998-2000; Justice 1991-2002
Charles T. Wells, Chief Justice 2000-2002; Justice 1994-2009
Raoul G. Cantero, III, Justice 2002-2008
Kenneth B. Bell, Justice 2003-2008

Former Justice Kenneth B. Bell emphasized that putting this Amendment in the constitution is of great concern, stating: “Once an Amendment is in the constitution, it is extremely difficult to change.  A subject such as this should be addressed by general law.”  He further noted that, “The Legislature has already legalized a strain of low-THC marijuana for medical use that is not smoked. Any expansion of marijuana use should reflect further development in medical knowledge and have a carefully limited scope, which Amendment 2 does not do.”

Constitutional Attorney Susan Kelsey noted that the Florida Supreme Court only very narrowly allowed Amendment 2 to go on the ballot, with a 4-3 vote.  Kelsey explained: “Then-Chief Justice Polston ruled that Amendment 2’s ballot summary is ‘egregious’ in misleading voters, and uses ‘deceptive wordsmithing,’ which will result in ‘Floridians voting on a constitutional amendment in disguise.’ Justice Canady concluded that ‘Foisting this seriously deceptive ballot summary on the voters does a severe disservice to the people and to their constitution.’ And, current Chief Justice Labarga deemed Amendment 2’s ballot summary ‘fatally confusing.’”

“With three current Justices adamantly opposed to putting Amendment 2 on the ballot, and now seven former Justices warning Floridians of the dire legal consequences of passing this Amendment, voters should take note and vote no on 2,” concluded Kelsey.


Former justices: Why voters should reject medical marijuana amendment

By Former Florida Supreme Court Justices Parker Lee McDonald, Leander J. Shaw, Jr., Stephen H. Grimes, Major B. Harding, Charles T. Wells, Raoul G. Cantero III and Kenneth B. Bell.

As former Florida Supreme Court justices, we once took an oath to protect the Constitution of the state of Florida. Today, we call on all Floridians to protect it by voting no on Amendment 2. This amendment, promoted as a compassionate effort to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, should be rejected — regardless of one’s position on the issue of medical marijuana.

Why should those who are both for and against medical marijuana vote no on Amendment 2? We offer five reasons.

First, the amendment is so broadly cast and vague, it will open the door to the general use of marijuana, not the carefully regulated medical use of a drug for those truly suffering. When proposed amendments are placed on the ballot, voters only see a ballot title and ballot summary written by the amendment sponsors. Most voters don’t have the time or inclination to read the full text of the actual amendment, much less study its impact. We have read the amendment and studied its impact. And we are troubled by what voters are being told about Amendment 2. Voters are led to believe that medical marijuana could only be used for “debilitating diseases.” But the full text of the amendment allows the use of marijuana for virtually any medical condition at the discretion of any recommending physician, and no actual prescription is required.

Second, Amendment 2 endangers Floridians by granting broad immunity from criminal and civil liability to virtually everyone involved in the chain of custody of marijuana. Today our criminal and civil justice systems protect citizens from harmful acts and compensate victims and families in cases of medical malpractice and negligence. But under Amendment 2, those providing and using medical marijuana, including every “certifying physician,” would be immune from basic enforcement and accountability that protect our safety. This would make marijuana the only drug under Florida law for which providers, caregivers and users would be absolved from liability if someone is harmed from its use.

Third, Amendment 2 creates a right to use marijuana, coupled with a right to privacy for medical marijuana users, without regard to age. This could be construed to allow minors to obtain marijuana for purported medical reasons without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Fourth, Amendment 2 creates the role of medical marijuana “caregiver.” There is only one requirement to be a caregiver — be at least 21 years old. Amendment 2 requires no medical expertise, training or background checks for caregivers, who would have the authority to provide marijuana to multiple individuals. This caregiver provision could be used as a legal shield to protect drug dealers from prosecution. The Florida Department of Health estimates that if Amendment 2 passes, there will be approximately 250,000 caregivers and nearly 1,800 pot shops that would dispense marijuana. This calls into question the state’s ability to adequately regulate the distribution of marijuana, since it would not be obtained from traditional pharmacies but from shops run by the marijuana industry.

Fifth, if Amendment 2 is approved, it would be almost impossible to fix its many flaws because it would be enshrined in the Constitution, rather than being a general law that can be changed or improved as needed to respond to inevitable problems.

Whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes is an issue about which reasonable people disagree and more study is needed. But anyone who reads the full text of Amendment 2 should readily agree that it is plagued by loopholes and vagueness that would lead to a myriad of unintended and undesirable consequences. Amendment 2 doesn’t belong in Florida’s Constitution.


The Vote No on 2 Campaign is a grassroots campaign, bringing the truth about Amendment 2 to the voters of Florida.  Its coalition includes members of law enforcement, business leaders, constitutional law attorneys, doctors and other medical professionals, parents and Floridians from all walks of life.  Amendment 2 is simply a guise to legalize pot smoking in Florida and the goal of this campaign is to point out the loopholes and explain why this amendment is bad for Florida.

For more information on the Vote No on 2 Campaign, please visit www.voteno2.org, follow us @saynoamendment2 and like us FB.com/noonamendment2.

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Paid political advertisement paid for by Drug Free Florida Committee, 115 East Park Avenue, Suite 1, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

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