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Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford (left) and City Council member Jim Love.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 22, 201412:00 PM EST

Sheriff John Rutherford supports use of medical marijuana but not Amendment 2

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Jacksonville’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer absolutely supports the use of marijuana by people with debilitating medical conditions.

“If someone in my family had cancer and marijuana would relieve their pain and suffering, I would give it to them,” said Sheriff John Rutherford.

On the other hand, Rutherford is absolutely against Amendment 2, which would allow physicians to prescribe marijuana to their patients.

The problem, he told the Downtown Council of the JAX Chamber on Friday, is the broad language of the amendment, which is on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The first part of the definition that would qualify a patient to receive marijuana as a treatment is specific: “Debilitating Medical Condition means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis.”

The rest of the sentence, he said, would be open to interpretation that could lead to drug abuse. That part of the sentence reads: “Or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

He said the drug could, under the language of the amendment, be prescribed for conditions such as tennis elbow, a sore back or even anxiety.

Another part of the amendment that gives the sheriff pause is the creation of “caregivers” who will be authorized to purchase the drug from a dispensary. Since marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it won’t be sold by pharmacists.

“You won’t find it at CVS or Walgreens,” Rutherford said.

Caregivers would dispense the marijuana to patients, including minors whose parents may not be aware their children are being treated with marijuana under the prevailing medical privacy laws.

“We’ll have medical marijuana in every backpack in every high school in Duval County,” said Rutherford.

As far as he is concerned, the language in the amendment will effectively legalize the drug by making it too easily available.

“It’s not a step toward legalization, it is legalization,” Rutherford said. “It’s the biggest deception that has ever been pulled on the citizens of Florida.”

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