Florida Amendment 2 (2014)

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Florida Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions, is an initiative that will appear on the November 4, 2014, ballot in the state of Florida as a citizen initiated state constitutional amendment. It has officially been certified by the state's secretary of state to appear on the November ballot and has been numbered Amendment 2, not to be confused with the 2008 ban on same-sex marriage of the same name. If enacted this measure would allow for the cultivation, purchase, possession and use of medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions when recommended by a physician. The amendment was introduced by People United for Medical Marijuana on March 26, 2009.[1][2] Supporters include the Florida Cannabis Action Network and John Morgan, head of the Morgan and Morgan law firm.[3] John Morgan spent at least $4 millions dollars soliciting voters to sign the petition. Opponents include the Florida Medical Association, Florida Sheriff's Association, American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Glaucoma Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Institute of Drug Abuse(NIDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Association(SAMHSA), Food and Drug Association (FDA), American Academy of Ophthalmology, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Sheldon Adelson, who donated $2.5 million to the Drug Free Florida Committee, which is a political committee trying to defeat the measure. [4]

For the earlier Amendment 2 that banned same-sex marriage in Florida, see Florida Amendment 2 (2008).

2014 gubernatorial politics[edit]

The ballot measure, highly popular in Florida, is expected to have a significant impact on the 2014 governor's race, as the state's governor will be elected the same day the measure is voted on and both leading candidates have directly opposing views on the issue. Gubernatorial candidate, former governor, and former Morgan and Morgan employee Charlie Crist(D) is for it, while the incumbent governor, Rick Scott(R), is opposed to it and his attorney general, Pam Bondi, best known for her opposition to same-sex marriage, headed the charge to keep it off the ballot, ultimately failing when the state's Supreme Court ruled in its favor using their constitutional authority. As the state Supreme Court is given the final say by the Constitution of Florida, this decision was seen to send it headed straight for the ballot. The state's Supreme Court includes members of both parties, so this was not seen to be a partisan decision.

Opposition to the measure could have a significant effect on Scott's re-election chances, as he is considered a vulnerable incumbent due to his approval poll numbers. Polls also have consistently shown that Florida voters do not trust Rick Scott, partly due to his well-publicized 1995 trial for Medicare fraud, in which he pled the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution 75 times in a deposition prior to being acquitted and given a golden parachute when he was forced to leave his then-company, Columbia/HCA.

Charlie Crist's former law firm, Morgan and Morgan, heavily pushed for the ballot measure and became involved in the petition efforts to get it on the ballot. The candidate and former governor himself donated a large sum of his own money to the effort.

Arguments in favor[edit]

Kim Russell, founder of People United for Medical Marijuana, said that she began legalization efforts shortly after her father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Some research claims that the drug can help alleviate the symptoms.[citation needed] In response to claims that politics is the motivating factor, Russell says, "It's freedom and it's also compassion."[5]

Path to the ballot[edit]

Registered voters signing the petition in Ybor City, FL from October 2013-January 2014.

In order to qualify for the 2014 ballot supporters are required to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by the petition drive deadline on February 1, 2014.

Supporters reported in August 2013 that they had collected at least 110,000 signatures, enough to trigger a ruling by the Supreme Court of Florida on the measure's constitutionality. Because of the cost of circulating petitions, supporters said they were pausing all petitioning activity until the measure gains the court's approval.[6]

The language in the measure was later approved for the ballot by the Florida Supreme Court on January 27, 2014. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had been litigating against the measure in court. An opinion against it was also filed by the Florida Legislature.

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University and released on July 28, 2014, indicates that 88 percent of Floridia's voters favor legalization of medical marijuana, suggesting that the initiative may be on the path to victory.[7]

Action since the Florida Supreme Court's ruling[edit]

Rick Scott, in spite of his personal opposition to Amendment 2, has signed an act of the currently Republican-dominated Florida Legislature legalizing the low-THC strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, which is thought to help alleviate the behavior of epilepsy in children. The strain, however, is largely only used by epileptic patients, and as a result the act is not thought to alleviate the demand for a general medical marijuana program in the state, as polls have consistently showed support for the measure to be above 80%, while only a 60% vote is needed to pass an amendment in Florida. Charlie Crist is actively pushing for the passage of the amendment and campaigning on the enactment of a state medical marijuana program.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]