Carol Jenkins Barnett, the daughter of George Jenkins and heiress to the popular Publix chain of supermarkets, made a significant donation of $800,000 to Drug Free Florida, a prohibition group that is trying to prevent Florida medical marijuana Amendment 2 from passing in the November ballot. The Amendment would allow medical marijuana to be legalized for patients suffering from debilitating disorders. The Publix stores are a trusted and beloved chain in Florida, often ranking as the most valued company in the Sunshine State. As of June 2016, Jenkins Barnett owned under 5 percent of the chain, and was the largest shareholder on record. According to Forbes, she is worth $1.8 billion dollars.
A History of Fighting Florida Medical Marijuana
This isn’t the first time Carol Jenkins Barnett donated some of that money to Drug Free Florida. She also donated $500,000 in 2014 when the conservative group thwarted the 2014 effort to change Florida medical marijuana laws. They killed a similar Amendment, using inaccurate, over the top propaganda videos to brainwash the public using fear tactics. The Amendment fell 2 percentage points short of the 60 percent vote needed to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. The group is back at it again, funded once again by Jenkins Barnett. Board members have made it clear that the decision to back the prohibition group is personal and does not in any way reflect the opinions of Publix board members or what the company represents.
A representative of Publix told TIME, “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. It is her desire to maintain the health and welfare of Floridians. For this reason, she contributed to Drug Free Florida, which is dedicated to educating the public on the dangerous consequences contained in this ballot initiative.”
The Truth About Legalization
According to the latest surveys conducted by the Department of Health in Colorado and Washington, the legalization of marijuana has not impacted teen use at all. In fact, some surveys indicate that teen use has gone down slightly. As a whole, no negative consequences have been revealed to impact the residents in any one of the 25 states with medical marijuana or on the 4 states plus D.C. where marijuana has been legalized. In fact, the industry has created more state funding, more career opportunities, less crime, less deaths from opioids and prescription drugs, and medical relief for a vast array of painful and debilitating conditions.
An Ironic Scenario
The irony of this particular donation is that it comes from a person who has been recently diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer’s. Jenkins Barnett, at 59, has had to step down from her position on the board of directors last month because of her condition. Alzheimer’s disease has been scientifically proven to be treated and even, to a degree, stopped or reversed with the use of medical marijuana. A study done by Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University and a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that both of the compounds in marijuana, THC and CBD are responsible for reducing the inflammation in the brain and healing the nerve cell function of the brain, treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and age related dementia. So ultimately it is Jenkins Barnett herself, who will pay the ultimate price for contributing to trying to block Florida medical marijuana treatment.