The Florida Medical Association, the state’s largest association of physicians with a membership of 20,000, came out in early August to publicly oppose Question 2, the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Question two needs 60 percent of the vote to be added to the state constitution and the most recent Quinnipiac Poll shows it has 88 percent support among voters.
That a group of doctors would come out against legalization of medical marijuana isn’t surprising. People who use medical marijuana don’t have to visit doctors and pharmacies as often. Even the American Medical Association lags behind the emerging recognition of marijuana’s amazing medicinal properties. What’s surprising about the Florida Medical Association’s opposition is that they don’t trust their own member doctors to be able to recommend cannabis for medicinal use.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that in a news release issued Monday, Dr. Alan B. Pillersdorf, president of the FMA, said “Providing compassionate care to our patients is something we do every day. We believe the untended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians.”
Part of those unintended consequences is Pillersdorf’s fear that “The lack of clear definitions in the amendment would allow healthcare providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances, to order medical marijuana.” It seems like odd wording. Florida doctors wouldn’t be “ordering” medical marijuana, like a pizza. If he means ordering as in prescribing or recommending, what unintended consequence from marijuana could possibly top Florida’s well-documented pill-mill epidemic?
The idea that Florida will become a Venice Beach-style marijuana free-for-all is the kind fear-mongering we can expect from medical marijuana opponents in Florida. United for Care -- the group pushing for the amendment’s adoption -- responded that FMA’s fear “seems premature considering that no definitive rules or regulations can be issued by the Department of Health until and if the Amendment is approved by voters.”
We think the Florida Medical Association could be more effective by educating its members about the endocannabinoid system, which is taught in only 13 percent of medical schools, according to a recent survey by Dr. David B. Allen in California. If FMA truly cares about providing compassionate care, how can they deny a non-toxic herb that’s kept Cathy Jordan alive with ALS for almost three decades? If they are concerned about the standards required of doctors recommending cannabis, they can become a part of the rule-making process that determines those standards.