Medical Marijuana in Florida 2014: The November Vote

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medical marijuana in floridaFollowing the long list of states that are now considering the legalization of medical marijuana, Florida is now due for a vote on it in November. A proposed constitutional amendment to allow the medical use of marijuana will now go before Florida voters in November after the state Supreme Court narrowly approved the ballot language on Monday. 

It was a 4-3 decision victory for personal injury lawyer John Morgan, who spent nearly 4 million on a medical marijuana petition drive, and a big defeat for Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who fought to keep the question off the ballot.

Gov. Rick Scott, who is the former CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz — all Republicans — backed Bondi’s effort to keep the question of the ballot.

The final decision came three days after Morgan secured enough voter signatures to make the ballot. He made a massive push in December and January to beat the February 1st deadline instead of waiting for the Supreme Court decision, and it paid off. 

“In our businesses, our cases are against the tobacco industries, pharmaceutical industries, big car companies, so we’re used to gambles, but we take calculated gambles,” Morgan said. “We like to win and we don’t just go down a rat hole unless we think we can win.”

“I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative,” Scott said in a statement released by his office. “But having seen the terrible effects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it. No matter my personal beliefs, however, a ballot initiative would be up to the voters to decide.”

Will Weatherford said he hopes voters reject the idea.

“I have faith they will do their homework and understand the impact of this truly radical proposal. Make no mistake: this is not about compassionate medical marijuana. This is about the Coloradofication of Florida, where the end game is a pot shop on every street corner,” Weatherford said in a statement issued through a spokesman.

Gaetz’ office said he had no comment.

“The people of Florida don’t like when their vote is tried to be suppressed,” Morgan said. “Unfortunately there’s some politicians in the state who did not want the people to have the say and they forgot that the power is in the people and democracy is based in the people.”

Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and Colorado and Washington state allow recreational use.

Polls have shown strong support for the measure in Florida. It must receive 60 percent approval from voters, and Morgan said his attention now turns to the campaign to get the measure passed.

“Now the people of Florida get to do what the Florida Legislature refused to do, which is to hear evidence, to see testimony, to hear real life stories, to read scientific journals, to talk to real people and then vote on it,” Morgan said.

He plans a voter registration drive and advertising campaign leading up to the election, as well as an effort to help supporters get to polls.

The Democrats hoping to challenge Scott — former state Sen. Nan Rich and former Gov. Charlie Crist — support medical marijuana.

There are multiple pros and cons to the legalization of marijuana. Talk to anyone who is against it and you will hear all the reasons medical marijuana shouldn’t be legalized. Talk to anyone who is for it and you will hear all the great reasons why it should be legal.

And anyone who plans on voting on this should really do their homework. We should all take a stand and look at it, not from the perspective of whether or not drugs are bad, but from a perspective of what is best for all people and the state. This means looking at whether or not medical marijuana in Florida is helpful economically, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, monetarily, socially and so much more. And as always we should try not to make it about our personal belief systems, but what is best for the majority. What is going to help us all to “win” in the long run? What do you think?