Rev. Dr. O’Neal DozierPot, weed, reefer, grass—whatever you call it, it is still marijuana!

Florida voters will soon vote on whether to legalize marijuana for “medical” use under Amendment 2.

This dangerous Amendment must be viewed in the context of its impact on the quality of life for Floridians-especially children. It signals a potential turning point in our state’s history.

Under the pretense of helping the sick, Amendment 2 would label marijuana “medicine” resulting in it being dispensed, not just to the so-called sick, but to children of all ages as well—without parental consent!

I support efforts to help those suffering from real debilitating illnesses, but Amendment 2 goes far beyond that worthy cause. It is nothing more than “smoking gun” evidence of a back door attempt to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Florida.

We cannot afford to make this wrong turn!

So why is it so dangerous?

After reviewing the full text of this Amendment—and not just the deceptive ballot summary– I agree!

In addition to not telling us that the Amendment does NOT require a doctor’s prescription, just a certification; or, that it gives a broad grant of immunity from civil and criminal liability to those who dispense, sell or use pot , it also:

• Allows so-called “caregivers” with NO required medical training and NO background checks to dispense medical pot—even if they are drug dealers—as long as they are at least 21 years of age.

• Places NO restrictions on the location of so-called “medical marijuana treatment centers” (“pot shops”)—that could locate near a store or school in your neighborhood; and,

• Imposes NO age limit on users;

• Allows teens to get marijuana WITHOUT parental consent; and,

• Permits marijuana to be put into food such as brownies and snacks which can be accidently ingested by children.

How many “caregivers” and “pot shops” are we talking about?

The Florida Department of   Health estimates that there will be nearly 24,000 “caregivers” in Broward; 34,000 in Miami-Dade; and 15,000 in Palm Beach counties alone and over 400,000 statewide. As to pot shops, the estimate for Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties are 168, 239, and126, respectively and nearly 2,000 statewide!

As one can see, underneath Amendment 2’s “covers of compassion, ” lies a viperous threat to the health, safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods, families and children. It takes an illegal drug–whose potency has tripled over the past twenty years–calls it medicine–and unleashes it on an uninformed and unsuspecting public—and children.

Parents and grandparents should be concerned about Amendment 2’s potential negative impact on children?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2012, nearly 25 percent of 10th graders admitted to smoking marijuana. As to the drug itself, it said that marijuana’s negative effects include impairing memory, learning skills; attention and judgment.

That’s why Amendment 2 is smoking gun evidence of an all-out cultural and secular war on our children and families.

In no way, even under the pretense of medicine, should we make marijuana legal in Florida.

It would pose a real and present danger to all communities, but especially those in low income neighborhoods many of which are already suffering from the ravages of drug violence, addiction and poor schools.

At a time when African-American high school graduation rates are below all other ethnic groups in the our state, this is no time to give pot respectability to our youth by opening the “medi-pot” flood gates and making things even worse.

This is a call to arms, Florida!

I am not alone in opposing this dangerous Amendment. The Florida Medical Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and seven former Members of the Florida Supreme Court have all announced their opposition.

Amendment 2 must be shot down!

Let them know that we are not willing to risk the future of our children!

As South Florida Times columnist Al Calloway wrote a few months ago:

“I have rarely met a dope fiend that didn’t start out smoking weed. I’m talking pill poppers to heroin addicts, coke sorters to crack and opium smokers. People who smoke marijuana sooner or later tend to dabble with other drugs and many get caught-up.”

And, so it will be with medical pot.

I urge everyone to Vote No on Amendment 2.

Reverend O’Neal Dozier is Senior Pastor, The Worldwide Christian Center Church, Pompano Beach, Florida; Former Board Member, One Church, One Child; and, former Member of the 17th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission serving Broward County.