Pubdate: Sun, 19 Jan 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Frank Cerebino


Let's consider the "misleading" politics of natural drugs and natural
gas in Florida.

I'm talking about medicinal marijuana and hydraulic fracturing, that
deep-drilling method - also known as "fracking" - that extracts
natural gas and oil from the earth.

These two seemingly unrelated governmental issues have crossed paths
in Florida in a curious way recently. Let me explain.

Those who have been seeking to make marijuana legal in Florida for
medicinal uses reached an important milestone this past week.

This hasn't been an issue that state legislators have embraced, so the
typical legislative process is being ignored in favor of an effort to
legalize medicinal marijuana through an amendment to the state
constitution. Which isn't easy.

First you've got to round up nearly 700,000 signatures of registered
voters who want the issue on the ballot, and you've got to turn in
those signatures by the end of this month. Then you've got to craft a
ballot question in 75 words or less that passes a clarity test with
the Florida Supreme Court. And finally, you have to get the approval
of at least 60 percent of the voters who cast ballots in November.

The United for Care campaign appears to be clearing the signature
hurdle. The group reported last week that it has already collected 1.1
million signatures from Florida voters wanting the issue on the
ballot, far more than it needs.

And being that opinion polls suggest that more than 4 out of 5 Florida
voters approve of the idea, getting 60 percent of the vote in November
is looking good too.

But wait, there's trouble in doobie-land.

Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi is trying to con- See page

 From page B1 vince the Florida Supreme Court that the marijuana
ballot question is too misleading for voters to consider. And because
it's too misleading, it should be stricken from the November ballot

he ballot language lists a long string of specific diseases that
marijuana can be used to treat.

But the amendment also permits physicians to prescribe marijuana for
"other conditions" if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Bondi says that's just fooling Floridians.

"With no 'condition' off limits, physicians could authorize marijuana
for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age," her brief to the
justices reads. "But rather than tell voters of the extraordinary
scope, the summary uses language to prey on voters' understandable
sympathies for Florida's most vulnerable patients - those suffering
with 'debilitating diseases.'"

In other words, this ballot language is secretly giving doctors too
much power. And we're all being misled by it.

If only Florida's leaders had the same concerns over energy

A bill called the "Fracturing Chemical Usage Disclosure Act" is
zipping through the Florida House these days.

It's basically a bill that paves the way for future fracking in
Florida by limiting disclosure of the toxic chemicals injected into
the ground during the process.

It's a "disclosure" act that limits disclosure. Talk about misleading.
Instead of these toxins being reported to the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, this "disclosure act" allows companies to
consider these chemicals "trade secrets" and report their existence to, an industry-friendly website that gives the appearance
of disclosure, while doing the opposite.

When two Texas newspapers did an analysis of 12,410 chemical injection
reports to in that state, it revealed that in 10,120 of
those cases, the companies used the terms "proprietary," "secret" or
"confidential" to keep the chemicals used from being known to the public.

Now Florida is marching down that same opaque and misleading

So, for those of you who are keeping score at home:

If we let doctors have leeway in deciding what's good for their
patients, that's dangerous and misleading.

But if we craft a "disclosure act" that lets energy companies inject
toxins into the ground, and then classify those toxins as "class
secrets" to avoid public disclosure, well, that's just fine. 
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