Pubdate: Sun, 02 Feb 2014
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2014 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Marc Caputo


Someone, get a doctor.

The chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court caught a case of reefer

The malady revealed itself in Justice Ricky Polston's Monday dissent
to the court's 4-3 decision to allow voters to decide a proposed
medical-marijuana constitutional amendment in November.

As if hallucinating, Polston warned about the risk of pot-smoking

"A physician, in his misguided 'professional opinion,' could believe
that the benefits of marijuana for a teething toddler would likely
outweigh the risks and, therefore, recommend that the toddler use
marijuana three times a day for six months or until the teething
subsided," the justice wrote.

You know what's next: the Grateful Dead and black lights at day

His absurd example aside, Polston's dissent broadly ignored the logic
and effect of the court's majority ruling. It said the amendment is
for "debilitating medical conditions" similar to nine listed ailments:
cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's disease,
Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

The majority opinion essentially creates legal doctrine in this case.
The verdict: The amendment isn't for minor maladies. It's for serious

Before the court ruled, the amendment was more open to interpretation
because it said a physician could also recommend marijuana for "other

Opponents, led by Attorney General Pam Bondi, said those "other
conditions" could include small ailments. The court found otherwise.
But Polston parroted Bondi.

Polston is right that the amendment could have been better written.
And there are legitimate concerns about medical marijuana.

But the credibility of Polston's dissent is undermined by its imagery
that is a throwback to the anti-drug-crusaders of the 1930s, when pot
was made illegal and the movie Reefer Madness was released to show the
dangers of demon weed on youth.

Nowadays, some kids are the face of medical marijuana advocacy - at
least when it comes to a strain called "Charlotte's Web," which can
help children who suffer from severe epilepsy.

Strange that Polston failed to mention those epileptic kids,

Polston also dismissed other language in the amendment that
specifically said a physician would have to recommend marijuana for a
"debilitating medical condition."

Along with justices Charles Canady and Jorge Labarga, Polston also
made much of the fact that the ballot summary says medical marijuana
is for debilitating "diseases" while the amendment text says it's for
debilitating "conditions."

But the majority said that, in this case, the words are synonymous.
They also faulted Polston's reasoning.

"This entirely misses the point!" Polston responded, his exclamation
point seeming to shout "I'm not crazy!"

Too bad he didn't use ALL CAPS to drive his point home.

So one more time: Under the amendment and the court's opinion,
Florida's medical marijuana proposal is for truly "debilitating"
ailments. Sore knees, minor stress and toothaches just don't make the

A willful ignorance of the facts can't be considered a "debilitating
medical condition," either. If so, Justice Polston might consider
getting a prescription.
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