TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) and five former Florida Supreme Court justices have voiced opposition to a November ballot question that asks voters in the state to legalize marijuana through a constitutional amendment.
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association strongly opposes any and all proposals that would legalize or decriminalize the sale, possession or use of marijuana,” FPCA executive director Amy Mercer told the Florida Record.
Mercer said it is primarily concerned that the proposed amendment would not provide clear guidelines for enforcement, leaving Florida’s law enforcement officers without specific instructions for consistent enforcement throughout the state.
“We believe this amendment may create more problems than it tends to alleviate,” Mercer said.
The FPCA also is concerned about unintended and dangerous consequences of the legalization of marijuana for school-aged children, particularly with the development of edible marijuana, which the association said often look like candy or sweets, but can be extremely potent drugs.
The FPCA said the threat for marijuana-related impaired driving is also very real, and the FPCA urged its members to be aware of the impact the passage of the proposed amendment could have on the millions of drivers on Florida’s roads. The association said these and similar public safety concerns are the basis for its opposition to the amendment.
“Our top priority is the safety of our citizens and communities,” Mercer said.
In a column written by former Florida Supreme Court Justices Parker Lee McDonald, Stephen H. Grimes, Major B. Harding, Raoul G. Cantero III and Kenneth B. Bell, the former justices said there are five problems with the proposed amendment.
Specifically, the justices said the language of the amendment voters are being asked to endorse is too broad. In addition, the justices raised concerns related to the dispensaries that would be formed to dispense marijuana in the state if the amendment passes, as well as concerns that older high school students may gain access to marijuana.
The five justices also expressed concern about the lenient standards applied to the handling of marijuana by caregivers and about the binding nature of a law passed in the form of a constitutional amendment.
“If we enshrine Amendment 2 in the Florida Constitution, the people of Florida will forfeit their ability to legislatively improve the law and to address the inevitable unintended consequences,” the justices said in the column, which was published in the Tampa Bay Times.
In the column, the justices said they “urge voters to protect and defend our Constitution and the fundamental principles of representative government by voting ‘no’ on Amendment 2.”
A previous version of the marijuana legalization amendment was voted down in 2014. Proponents of the currently proposed amendment claim they have addressed issues that led to the narrow defeat of the 2014 proposal.
“We have read this revised amendment and have studied its impact,” the justices wrote. “This amendment is still defective and again should be rejected.”
The amendment requires passage by 60 percent of voters to become part of the state’s constitution.