Pubdate: Fri, 01 Aug 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Pamela S. Goodman
Note: Pamela S. Goodman is a resident of Palm Beach Gardens. She 
wrote this for The Palm Beach Post.
Page: A17


Despite polls showing that eight out of 10 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 doctor's orders without having to fear being arrested. Period.

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 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, 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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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom