Tallahassee’s political establishment has repeatedly blocked legislative votes on medical marijuana and will ask the Florida Supreme Court Thursday to follow suit and keep the issue away from state voters in 2014.
Led by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, opponents have
raised a host of objections to the proposed state constitutional
amendment, which they say could lead to de facto “unfettered” marijuana
legalization under the guise of compassionate medicine.
proposal hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the
most lenient medical-marijuana states,” says Bondi’s initial court
The amendment backers, People United for Medical Marijuana, say
opponents are twisting the truth and preventing the sick from legally
“Any statement that the initiative would allow
unfettered use of medical marijuana would itself be misleading to
voters,” wrote People United’s lawyer, John Mills.
Bondi and opponents of dressing up inaccurate campaign-trail talking
points as technical legal arguments to keep Florida from being the 21st
state to decriminalize marijuana for medical and other reasons.
the past three years, medical marijuana bills have died in the Florida
Legislature, where leaders wouldn’t even schedule a vote.
United, a political committee, says it’s acting because the Legislature
failed to. People United formed as a nonpartisan group, but partisan
lines are forming behind the scenes.
The amendment’s opponents are
mostly Republicans who back incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, an opponent. Its
backers are Democrats who support Charlie Crist, a proponent of the
One early polling analysis suggested that medical
marijuana — which enjoys bipartisan support and garnered 82 percent
approval in a recent poll — could affect the 2014 governor’s race, but
pollsters from both parties suggest its impact would be minimal.
if the Supreme Court allows the proposal to proceed to the November
ballot, amendment sponsors will still need to gather 683,149
voter-signatures by Feb. 1. People United says it has about 500,000
signed petitions, fewer than half of which have been verified.
To pass, an amendment needs 60 percent voter support, a significant challenge.
oral arguments Thursday, the state Supreme Court justices will focus on
whether the proposed amendment limits itself to one subject, is clear
and whether its ballot title or 75-word ballot summary are misleading.
ballot summary’s language has drawn the most criticism. It says medical
marijuana would be reserved for those who suffer from “debilitating
But the language is open to wide interpretation, says
Bondi’s court briefs, which are echoed by filings from state House and
Senate leaders, an anti-drug group and powerful lobbies that include the
Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Medical Association and the
associations representing police chiefs and sheriffs. Continue Reading....