Pubdate: Sat, 27 Sep 2014
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2014 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Dan Sweeney, Staff writer
Page: 1A


Doctor, Lawyer Square Off Over Effect of Amendment 2

Will Amendment 2 give seriously ill people a chance to treat their 
symptoms with medical marijuana instead of potentially deadly 
prescription drugs? Or will it give doctors carte blanche to 
recommend it to just about anyone, turning Florida into a pot paradise?

Medical marijuana's biggest backer in the state brought his case 
before the Sun Sentinel's editorial board on Friday, and faced off 
against a politically connected medical doctor who opposes medical 
marijuana in general, and Florida's Amendment 2 specifically.

John Morgan, founder of the Morgan and Morgan law firm, counts 
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist among its employees. 
Morgan is also the chairman of United for Care, the organization that 
launched the petition drive for Amendment 2 and is now pushing to get 
it passed.

Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos is the wife of former Republican state 
Senate President Mike Haridopolos and maintains that marijuana 
"destroys the willingness to be motivated in life. It destroys 
families." She said the amendment as proposed was too broad and 
vague, that it would be "de facto legalization."

"The people we're fighting for are at the end of their life or 
fighting for their life," Morgan said. The amendment he advocates 
would offer marijuana as a treatment for a variety of debilitating or 
terminal illnesses, such as cancer, AIDS and ALS. It would also give 
physicians wide latitude to recommend marijuana for "other conditions 
for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana 
would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient."

Haridopolos sees that as a loophole through which unethical doctors 
could prescribe marijuana for all sorts of everyday ailments, from 
insomnia to muscle aches. But Morgan said that the wording allowed 
doctors only to prescribe the drug for other debilitating illnesses, 
and cited PTSD among veterans as a worthy ailment that wasn't 
specifically mentioned in the text of the amendment.

Although Haridopolos admitted she could see a day when she might 
prescribe marijuana, she said a lot of things would have to happen 
first. It would have to be moved federally from a Schedule I 
controlled substance to a Schedule II, which would allow for more 
scientific research. That research would then have to show positive 
effects. And the end product would have to be medical-grade and 
administered as a pill, a vapor or an oil - something that can 
administer a carefully measured dosage.

Haridopolos worries it's difficult to measure dosage with edibles, 
such as brownies or candy, and is opposed to any smokeable form of marijuana.

"All physicians feel smoking anything is detrimental to your health," 
she said.

Morgan pointed out that no one has ever died from overdosing on 
marijuana, and said the product would actually be a safer alternative 
to many treatments available now. He pointed to pain medications such 
as Oxycontin, Percocet and morphine as deadly drugs whose use could 
be curtailed through medical marijuana.

"If you worry about your children, worry about pharmacies," he said.

To watch the whole debate, visit 
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