A decision on the proposed amendment to the constitution as regards the permission to use and distribute marijuana for therapeutic purposes, as authorized/directed by a physician, will be taken by Floridians this November. United for Care, the proposer of the amendment, have been instrumental in collecting nearly 683,000 signatures required for placing the proposal on the November 2016 ballot, according to the Division of Elections in Florida.
The ballot measure would appear as Amendment 2 before the voters and would be referred to as “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions.” If the amendment is passed qualified patients would be able to possess as well as obtain marijuana from facilities licensed by the state. According to a poll, 62 percent of the voters in Florida have said that they would support the amendment’s passage. The Florida law requires that at least 60 percent of the voters should support the amendment in order to make it a law.
Organizers said that growing support from the public and a better voter turnout because of the presidential election this year should enable the passage of the measure. It was in 2014 that the Floridians voted on medical marijuana for the last time. The measure failed to make the 60 percent approval mark for ensuring a constitutional amendment by just 2.4 percent.
The group spearheading the amendment drive and putting the issue on the ballot, United for Care, said that it has collected as many as 692,981 signatures of certified voters. This is approximately 10,000 more than what it could collect for the same purpose in 2014. Ben Pollara, the organizer of the signature campaign for United for Care said that the fact that more than 60 percent of the voters of Florida will accord approval for truly implementing a medical marijuana laws gives a good feeling.
In 2014, when the proposal for amending the marijuana law mustered the support of only 57.6 percent of voters, Pollara had said that the most of the Floridians supported the need to legalize medical use of marijuana and that lawmakers would pass a bill to approve the same.
However, the Legislature did not show any kind of enthusiasm on the issue. In this connection, it should be noted that the lawmakers did accord approval for the use of marijuana that does not cause euphoria for the treatment of seizures. However, the product is not available even now to those that are in need of it because of the problems faced by the state in establishing regulations for overseeing the production and distribution of medical marijuana. According to Pollara, the prevailing law has not been of any use to anyone and hence the issue is being brought back on the ballot.
John Morgan, a personal injury lawyer, has spent over $6 million during the period 2014 to 2016 on efforts to ensure legalization of use of marijuana for medical purposes. According to him, he has been inspired by his brother, a quadriplegic who makes use of marijuana for controlling muscle spasms, to take the campaign forward. The Orlando trial lawyer noted that the language used in the proposal is stronger compared to the one use in 2014 and that anti-drug crusaders, including Pam Bondi, cannot challenge it this time.
Pollard noted that though millions of dollars was spent to oppose the medical marijuana bill in 2014, the proponents could muster nearly 58 percent support. He also expressed confidence that since more voters in Florida approve of the medical use of marijuana now and more voters are likely to turn out for the presidential election in November the amendment will be passed and turned into a law even if campaigns are mounted against the effort.
He also noted that there is no need to respond to everything that the opposing parties say. All that the proponents have to do is get the message across to people that marijuana provides a great deal of relief to sick people who endure a lot of suffering. Voters in Florida will decide in favor of the new initiative to use marijuana for medical purposes as the Division of Elections of the state has certified that the sponsors of the initiative have collected sufficient valid signatures for putting the proposition on the November 2016 ballot.