I am taking a detour from my usual nonsense to report on an important issue for Floridians and individuals in states that have not yet voted on legalizing marijuana for medical needs.
I was recently made aware, through interests I follow, that Carol Jenkins Barnett, daughter of George Jenkins, the founder of Publix Super Markets, donated $800,000 to Drug Free Florida to fight Amendment 2 in the 2016 election. This donation was made through the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust to make it “personal” rather than on behalf of Publix. Regardless, Publix is answering customer inquiries on the subject. According to Erin at Healthnutnews.com, this response was given by an employee named Sasha:
“Carol Jenkins Barnett has long supported efforts to protect Florida’s families and children against the perils of drug abuse. As such, she feels that Amendment 2 would usher in an unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida as opposed to only helping those who suffer from debilitating illnesses.”
Ms. Barnett first donated $500,000 in 2014 to Drug Free Florida who, in turn, spent $6 million on scare-tactic campaigns prior to the election. Amendment 2 fell two percentage points short of the 60% needed to become state law.
The 2016 Ballot Summary specifically prohibits non-medical use:
BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.
Debilitating medical conditions were defined as follows: “Cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
Read the full text of Amendment 2 here:
One has to wonder if Ms. Barnett did ANY of her own research before writing that $800,000 check to Drug Free Florida. I particularly liked the YouTube video entitled “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Weed – CNN Special Documentary,” published March 11, 2015.
Cannabis was actually prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies prior to 1937 when it became illegal because of our first drug czar, Henry Anslinger. The video barely touched on this history but I found an article adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. In short, Anslinger knew cannabis was not a problem but after prohibition ended, the Department of Prohibition needed a new purpose and he sensationalized the dangers of cannabis to justify the existence of his department.
In the video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D., a neurosurgeon and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and Associate Chief of Neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, interviewed numerous individuals and medical doctors. The most heart-wrenching of these was Charlotte, a 5-year-old girl who was “out of options” for treatment of epilepsy and finally found relief with cannabis oil.
In this video, marijuana was said to be made up of two ingredients:
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component
CBD (cannabidiol) is the compound with no psychoactive components.
Both THC and CBD have medical benefits. It depends on the condition you are trying to treat. Ironically, at the time her donation was given to Drug Free Florida, Ms. Barnett, age 59, announced that she was leaving the Publix board of directors because of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She is now facing her very own “debilitating illness.”
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a 2014 preclinical study about very low doses of THC slowing production of beta-amyloid proteins. These proteins are believed to be a key contributor in the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California published a June 2016 article about cannabinoids removing plaque-forming Alzheimer’s proteins from brain cells.
With a net worth of $1.72 billion, Ms. Barnett can afford to chase down any promising relief for Alzheimer’s but the rest of us without such spare change need to do our own research before speaking out or voting against medical marijuana. A lot of people worked very hard collecting enough signatures to get medical marijuana on the ballot. I remember being approached in 2014 at the public library by someone collecting signatures.
Take the time to watch the thought-provoking video with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He has the background to express an informed opinion on medical marijuana. Ms. Barnett does not. Nor do the other top donors to Drug Free Florida – Mel Sembler, chairman of a retail space development company, and Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner.
I do not want recreational use of marijuana legalized any more than Ms. Barnett but I do not believe an “unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida” would occur unless placed on the ballot and voted on by Floridians. You may one day need medical marijuana. Please don’t shoot it down out of ignorance.