Florida’s sheriffs are organizing a major campaign to oppose medical marijuana in the state. The issue will be on the ballot in November.
The state Sheriffs Association asked county sheriffs across the state for their support in opposing the MMJ measure. Of Florida’s 67 sheriffs, 63 joined the effort.
That’s hardly surprising, given the usual antagonism of law enforcement toward marijuana reform. The Sheriff’s Association opposes any attempts to legalize cannabis, for recreational or medical use.
The group’s slogan is “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot.” They’re trying to ally themselves with other anti-drug groups and the substance abuse community. According to the association, states that have enacted medical weed have seen a spike crime and traffic accidents.
“Of the 20 states with the highest driver acknowledgment of drugged driving, 15 were states that have passed legislation legalizing marijuana,” the group said in a press release. “The Los Angeles and Denver police departments have reported significant increases in crime since marijuana was legalized in their respective states.”
Not surprisingly, those statements are false. In fact, between the first quarter of 2013, when pot became legal, and the same period in 2014, violent crime dropped in Denver by 6.9 percent while property crime fell by 11.1 percent. Crime rates have been dropping in Los Angeles for years.
What’s more, recent research shows that while drugged driving arrests may be increasing in states with legal weed, serious highway accidents and fatalities are decreasing. That’s probably because more drivers are substituting booze for weed. Both are dangerous when used with a motor vehicle, but marijuana less so than alcohol.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who joined the opposition campaign, said he’s not against MMJ. But he doesn’t think that’s the real purpose of this measure.
“The real purpose of this amendment is for recreational marijuana to be legalized,” he said.
In fact, the ballot initiative is clear that it legalizes only medical marijuana. It makes no provisions for general use of the drug. Opponents take issue with the fact that it gives doctors discretion to determine what constitutes a qualifying condition, but it’s a giant leap from there to recreational weed.
It’s unlikely the sheriffs will get very far, however. Polls have shown repeatedly that a large majority of Florida voters, about 70 percent, favor medical pot. The amendment needs 60 percent of the vote to become law, but the polls suggest it has a comfortable margin.