Is medical marijuana coming to Florida? Very soon Floridians will vote on Amendment 2 or Question 2 which would legalize medical marijuana and allow physicians to prescribe it to qualifying patients.
This will be a key election to watch even if you don’t live in Florida. If it passes Florida will become the first Southern state to legalize marijuana. You can read the full amendment and pros and con campaign arguments here: http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Right_to_Medical_Marijuana_Initiative,_Amendment_2_%282014%29
Here is a quick summary:
On November 4, Florida voters will be asked whether seriously ill residents of the Sunshine State should be allowed to use medical marijuana with a valid doctor’s recommendation and whether the state should register and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have effective medical marijuana programs in place. Should a sufficient number of voters vote “YES” on Question 2, Florida will be come the 24th state and the first in the South! http://www.mpp.org/states/florida/
Floridians overwhelmingly support medical marijuana across all age groups and political parties. But that does not guarantee that Amendment 2 will pass. The Initiative process in Florida is an extremely difficult one and the fight to legalize medical marijuana has had to jump over some serious hurdles. Getting the large number of signatures to get it on the ballot was the first. Then there was a challenge to keep it of the ballot due to its wording.
The final hurdle to jump will be getting 60% of the vote to pass. That may not happen. Washington only got 55% of the vote to pass I 502 and legalize weed. And that was during a presidential election year. Voter turnout is likely to be lower this year.
A poll conducted by the Tampa Bay Times six weeks ago showed 57% of likely voters would vote yes on Amendment 2 and only 24% were opposed to the amendment. But the remaining 17% of undecided voters could hold the key to whether this passes or not.
But a more recent poll conducted by the same paper on Oct 7 – 12th shows that only 48% would vote for Amendment 2. 44% now oppose it, nearly double the number in the previous poll and 7 percent are now undecided. If this poll is accurate it is unlikely that Amendment 2 will pass even though the majority of voters in Florida support medical marijuana.
“My guess today is this is not going to pass,” said David Colburn, director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. “It may not mean that Floridians don’t support the use of medical marijuana,” he said, but apparently many voters dislike the amendment’s wording and embedding it into the state Constitution. http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/times-poll-medical-marijuana-amendment-in-deep-trouble/2202221
The opposition to this bill has heated up thanks to increased financing and outspoken opposition by sheriffs. They seem to want to nitpick over the wording, creating fears that even teenagers could get access to cannabis with parental consent.
One key issue neither side seems to have brought up is that keeping medical marijuana illegal is just putting money in the pockets of cartels.
If Amendment 2 fails it will not be because there is a lack of support for legal medical marijuana in Florida. Its widespread support could be enough to get Florida’s legislature to pass a medical marijuana bill. Bills have been introduced there but not voted on. In effect, Amendment 2 is a response to a state legislature that has been unresponsive to the voters it represents.