Jan 27, 2014

According to Reuters, Florida voters will be given the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana in November, after the state Supreme Court approved an initiative to put the measure on the ballot today.

Of course, their Republican Party leadership had opposed the wording on the original ballot measure, saying that it would make it too easy for healthy people to get marijuana.

“Voters are given fair notice as to the chief purpose and scope of the proposed amendment, which is to allow a restricted use of marijuana for certain ― debilitating medical conditions,” the court said in a 4-3 ruling in which conservative justices and one moderate dissented.

“We conclude that the voters will not be affirmatively misled regarding the purpose of the proposed amendment because the ballot title and summary accurately convey the limited use of marijuana, as determined by a licensed Florida physician,” the court ruled.

If the amendment passes – which would need at least 60% of the vote – Florida would become the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana for medical use, even though it still remains “illegal” at the federal level. However, with the president of the U.S. even admitting marijuana’s legitimate uses (with a level of harm less than alcohol), that may change with time.

Polling in Florida has shown that the measure will overwhelmingly pass, with one survey showing the level of citizen support for the measure at 82%.

In issuing its ruling, the court rejected a host of arguments advanced by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, Florida’s Senate President Don Gaetz and conservative-leaning lobby groups based in the state Capitol.

Their arguments included claims that voters would be “tricked into legalizing marijuana under the guise of helping sick people.”

One of the most-conservative members of the court, Justice Ricky Polston, echoed the arguments of opponents — sure to be amplified on the campaign trail —in saying this proposal is designed to “hide the ball” from voters.

“The normal and common sense meaning of the words used in this initiative‘s ballot summary and title are significantly different than the normal and common sense meaning of the words used in the amendment‘s text,” he wrote in a lengthy dissent in which fellow conservative, Charles Canady concurred.

Sounds like someone needs to calm down and smoke a bowl, in my opinion.

The citizen’s group that pushed for the amendment proposal, People United for Medical Marijuana, said the opponents were twisting their words. Another non-surprising feature they pointed out was that the Florida Legislature – largely run by Republicans – has repeatedly blocked medical marijuana efforts from even getting a foot in the door by getting a hearing in the state Capitol until just now.

The way they finally got a hearing was through poll after poll showing “outsized and bipartisan support” for medical marijuana, not just in Florida but throughout the whole nation. It was only then that state lawmakers began giving more consideration to the proposal.

The “limited proposal” is aimed at a certain strain of marijuana that contains a low level of THC (the substance that alters the mind) and a strong level of CBD’s (the substance that works very well for seizures in children, and in treating chronic pain).

But that proposal is far more limited in scope than the proposed constitutional amendment, which targets 9 specific “debilitating medical conditions.” But doctors could recommend marijuana for other ailments if they conclude that cannabis could help their patients more than harming them, which is why the Republicans in Florida are opposing it so severely.