Guest column: Dave Trecker...Pols and pot — and other addictions

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Dave Trecker

Naples

The phone rings.

“If you favor Paige Kreegel, press one. If you favor Chauncey Goss, press two. If you favor Connie Mack, press three. If you ”

The political season is here, if there was ever any doubt.

And on top of the other races, the regularly scheduled ones, we now have to contend with a special election to replace Trey Radel — a primary in April and a general election in June.

Busted trying to buy cocaine in Washington D.C., Radel resigned his U.S. House seat Jan. 24. Democrats and local media rejoiced. Republicans hunkered down to find a replacement. Hopefully one with no addictions worse than caffeine.

But, as the commercials say, “Wait. There’s more.”

On the same day Radel resigned, the Florida Supreme Court approved wording for a constitutional amendment that would legalize pot for medical use.

If you think the race for Radel’s seat will be frantic, wait until the gubernatorial candidates face off on marijuana. That will be a doozy.

Already Democrats and tort lawyers (think of the potential malpractice suits) are lining up in favor of pot. Twenty-one other states can’t all be wrong. Those stick-in-the-mud Republicans are worrying about drug misuse and what might come next — namely, recreational marijuana.

Colorado and Washington have legalized pot for play, and eight other states are considering it. Why not Florida? We could be Woodstock South. Think of the headline: “Flower Children in Sunshine State.”

But back to medical marijuana. Here’s the key question: Is there any clinical evidence pot provides relief from pain or seizures or anything else that cannot be provided by other medicines already available? We’ll hear plenty about that over the next several months.

But wait. There’s more.

The Florida Legislature may legalize a marijuana extract said to reduce seizures in epileptic children. Sounds reasonable. Backers say you can’t get high on it, unlike the feel-good cannabis in the constitutional amendment.

Confused? A constitutional amendment and separate legislation. Two forms of pot, with similar indications. Or are they different? Tallahassee has its work cut out for it.

But wait. There’s still more.

In a year of dealing with addictions, the Legislature is mulling over what to do about gambling. There are a lot of disparate parts — dog tracks, Indian casinos, slots, specific card games. Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) was quoted as saying, “All those pieces of the puzzle don’t snap together easily.”

With a legislative overhaul unlikely, Tallahassee may punt to the voters. There’s a move afoot to draft a constitutional amendment to codify and, perhaps, expand gaming in Florida. Las Vegas-style casinos, complete with roulette and faro, could be next.

So bring on the sin.

There seems to be plenty of it to go around.

Just don’t take away my Scotch!

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