Pubdate: Wed, 08 Oct 2014
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2014 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Michael Pollick


Entrepreneurs like Jaime DiDomenico, owner of Sarasota-based Cool 
Today, have hard questions about the state constitutional amendment 
that would allow medical marijuana in Florida.

Will it make their liability insurance go up? Will they be able to 
keep medical marijuana users off their workforce?

Though such inquiries abound, there were more questions than answers 
that came out of a Wednesday forum titled "How Will Amendment 2 
Impact Your Business?"

The event, sponsored by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and Lakewood 
Ranch Business Alliance, devolved into a debate over the merits and 
pitfalls of the proposed amendment that will be voted on statewide on Nov. 4.

"We have over 150 employees," DiDimenico said. "We have over 100 on 
the road. We are working with electrical, climbing ladders, working 
with cranes.

"As a business owner, my biggest fear is having somebody injured or 
killed, or somebody injuring or killing somebody, and then being 
under the influence."

A panel comprising Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube; Matthew D. 
Westerman, a labor law attorney at the Blalock Walters P.A. firm; Dr. 
Jessica Spencer, state coalition director for Vote No on 2; David 
Wright, president and CEO of Lakewood Ranch medical marijuana 
start-up AltMed LLC; and Richard S. Thompson, a Zenith Insurance 
executive, had few concrete answers.

Westerman wondered what would happen in the wake of passage if a 
worker with a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana becomes 
aware he is about to lose his or her job for not performing, or for lateness?

"I can see a lot of litigation coming out of the Florida Civil Rights 
Act," Westerman said.

Thompson said he doesn't believe much change ultimately will come 
about in the insurance arena.

"It is conceivable that we may be providing marijuana under a 
worker's compensation claim? Yes it is," he said.

Zenith executives in California, where medical marijuana has been 
legal since 1996, however, say there has been no substantive spike in 
workers compensation costs connected with cannabis.

But DiDomenico remains perplexed - and worried.

His biggest costs - and ones that can vary greatly - are liability 
and legal expenses, he said.

"This is an amendment to the Florida constitution with fairly thin 
language, and we are going to interpret and legislate and adjudicate 
that amendment of the backs of business."

AltMed's David Wright countered the amendment would be aimed at 
treating people with debilitating conditions - not those doing manual 
and technical heating and air conditioning work.

Steube, however, isn't so sure. He warns the open-ended language 
could allow marijuana treatment for a wide array of ailments.

"It could be back pain, it could be neck pain, it could even be 
menstrual cramps," he said.
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