Pubdate: Fri, 01 Aug 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Pamela S. Goodman


Despite polls showing that eight out of ten Floridians are for it, one
of the most controversial and talked about issues this November
election is medical marijuana. This is my first time saying this in a
public forum but here it is: I'm for it too.

I, like most voters, believe that if a doctor recommends a course of
treatment to a patient -- whether it's an exercise regime, a
multivitamin, a new diet, or marijuana -- that patient should be able
to follow their doctors orders without having to fear being arrested.

But unfortunately, like many policy decisions, a simple premise often
requires a complicated and potentially messy system of implementation.
We watched a miniature version of this play out earlier this month, as
state regulators began the process of setting in motion the
legislature's rather lame and cynical attempt at a medical marijuana
bill: the political ploy also known as Charlotte's Web.

What that nascent rule making process crystallized for me is that if
Amendment 2 passes this fall, the politicians need some outside
assistance in writing and implementing legislation and the Florida
Department of Health needs some regulatory guidance that isn't born
out of legislative and electoral politics.

The new, nonprofit advocacy organization, Florida for Care, recently
asked me to join the "Blue Ribbon Commission" that they are convening
to provide this much-needed guidance and I happily accepted. In doing
so I join a group that includes a former House speaker and Senate
majority leader, a sitting sheriff, a panel of experts in medicine,
science and patient advocacy as well as other strong, credible voices
in this important conversation.

The commission's chairman, Jon Mills, wrote the constitutional
amendment that will appear on the November ballot and argued its case
before the Florida Supreme Court. And he certainly knows his way
around Florida law, having appeared over 40 times in front of the high
court, and served as both Dean of the UF College of Law and Speaker of
the Florida House of Representatives.

His counterpart, Vice Chairman Alex Diaz de la Portilla, served as
majority leader of the Florida Senate; and Portilla has said he is
going to vote against Amendment 2, but that his opposition doesn't
preclude him from wanting to put this law in place in the best way
possible for the state he has served, should it pass.

I am honored to be part of this diverse and highly respected group of
individuals and really believe that by working proactively and
productively together this summer we can provide a framework for
Florida that will make us the "gold standard" of medical marijuana
when we become the 24th state to adopt such a law.

When I served as president and CEO of The Limited/Express, I oversaw a
national network of $1.5 billion in more than 850 retail operations,
so I know the challenges of regulating a major retail business
operation. I want to bring that experience, in addition to my other
roles in the business and nonprofit sector, to this important
conversation about how we do the best job for our state in planning
for Amendment 2.

In my role on this commission, I intend to advocate for a core set of
principles that if properly balanced, I believe will result in good
public policy: first and foremost, safe, affordable access to the sick
Floridians who need this medicine; second, a regulatory structure that
makes this system legitimate and tightly controlled; and finally a
robust commercial marketplace that allows for the type of competition
that will ultimately result in better, cheaper medicine for the patients.
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