Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Previewing the advocacy battle in Florida over 2014 medical marijuana initiative

FloridaThis local article from Florida, headlined "Ad war looms over medical marijuana: 'Compassion for sick' versus 'Devil in the details'," spotlights the developing terms of debate in the campaign for and against Florida's medical marijuana initiative being voted upon this November. Here are some of the details:

A burst of ads coming soon to TV screens in Florida will feature patients and doctors extolling the virtues of marijuana as a compassionate way to treat the sick and ease their pain. The soft-sell campaign, a laid-back variation on the usual political pitch, is designed to promote a constitutional amendment on November's ballot to legalize medical marijuana.

Countering that message will be a rival set of ads warning that approval of the amendment would lead to widespread drug use, supplied by "pot docs" and "pot shops" at every turn.

The dueling ad campaigns will compete for attention amid political appeals from candidates for governor and other offices, adding to an expected deluge of election messages though late summer and early fall.

Neither side would say when its ads will start or how much it's planning to spend. But both sides are preparing to hit the airwaves with TV and radio spots while developing networks of campaign volunteers and delivering their messages on the Internet. It's not quite politics as usual.

"We're not in a partisan scrum. We're not in an attack-and-response mode," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care, which is spearheading the marijuana amendment. "We're just going to go out there and have people share their stories about how medical marijuana has affected them, or could have affected them, and their loved ones." The testimonials, he said, will come from patients, doctors and nurses.

He said 10,000 volunteers have signed up to help convey the message through phone calls, in-person talks and social media. They will be pitching constitutional Amendment 2, which "allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician."...

Early polls indicate overwhelming public support for medical marijuana — by 88 percent in a statewide Quinnipiac University poll — but analysts expect a close vote on Amendment 2, which requires 60 percent approval to become law.

Opponents, including law-enforcement groups and Republican leaders, say the amendment is full of loopholes that could allow unscrupulous "pot docs" to recommend the drug for recreational users. "The thing I would be concerned about is the ruse of medicinal marijuana for purposes of allowing people basically to buy a joint and smoke it," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Florida reporters this month.

Nonprofit groups that oppose the measure have banded together under the Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition, which provides speakers at public forums. A separate group known as Vote No on 2 will lead the ad campaign.

A sample ad already has popped up on the Internet. The video shows scenes of children walking past marijuana stores in California, big piles of pot and derelicts puffing on pipes. "They say they just want to help the sick, but that's not the whole story," a narrator intones. These scenes are interspersed with commentary from experts, such as lawyers and cops, who support the theme "The Devil is in the Details."

"A vote for Amendment 2 is a vote for legalization of marijuana forever in the state of Florida," Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, tells viewers.

The coming air war will bring the debate into Floridians' living rooms. "There's certainly going to be enough spending to make it a salient issue, with both sides ramping up their ad buys," said Daniel Smith, political science professor at the University of Florida. He said this issue, highlighted by the ads, will prompt some voters to cast ballots who otherwise might not bother with a non-presidential election.

August 18, 2014 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Colbert on pot taxes

Stephen Colbert had this amusing little segment about marijuana taxes recently:

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Though Colbert is hilarious as always, those wanting serious coverage of pot taxes should be sure to follow Pat Oglesby's always fantastic work at http://newrevenue.org.

March 18, 2014 in Taxation information and issues , Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Colorado marijuana driving PSAs

Colorado's Department of Transportation has released three new public service announcement ads on marijuana and driving.  The ads aim to remind people that while using marijuana is now legal in the state, driving while high is still a crime.  I think they're pretty effective, using humor to grab people's attention.  (Of course, driving while impaired is no laughing matter, but the use of humor here seems like a good way of breaking through the clutter with these ads.)  

Here's my favorite of the three:

 

March 7, 2014 in Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

NFL Commissioner asked again about marijuana

Following this week's excellent HBO Real Sport's piece on the use of medical marijuana by NFL players (if you haven't seen it and have access to HBO On Demand, I definitely recommend it), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked again about the league's marijuana policy.  

ProFootballTalk provides the details:

At a press conference to announce the first winners of the “Head Health Challenge” aimed at finding innovative techniques for treating and/or preventing brain injuries, Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that, if marijuana can be proven to help players recover from concussions, the league could change its position.

“I’m not a medical expert.  We will obviously follow signs.  We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that,” Goodell said, via USA Today.  “Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”

In a recent interview with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, NFL senior V.P. of labor law and policy Adolpho Birch told Andrea Kremer that the league would look at anything that could help its players.  An Isreali doctor has found via research on mice that marijuana can help in the recovery from traumatic brain injuries.

Many players already believe that marijuana helps manage pain, and they smoke it even though the league says they can’t.  For players not already in the substance-abuse program, there’s no chance of testing positive after the annual test to which every player is subjected during the offseason, in a window that opens (coincidentally) on 4/20.

If the federal government ever changes its position regarding marijuana, the NFL may have no choice but to revise its position.  The policy as written prohibits the “illegal use” of marijuana; if it’s ever fully legal in jurisdictions like Washington and Colorado, the league won’t have any way to take action against players who live or work there.

January 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Sports, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)