A Florida ballot initiative has been approved for November that would legalize the medicinal use and possession of marijuana in that state. If passed, it would make Florida the first Southern U.S. state to have a medical marijuana program, though 20 other states throughout the country currently do.
The measure was approved by a “bitterly divided” state supreme court, according to Reuters, who voted 4-3 to send the initiative forward. A 60% majority will be needed in November for the measure to become law.
Republicans sharply criticized the proposed plan, saying it was worded too vaguely and would allow nearly anyone with the mildest medical complaint to gain access to cannabis. But the initiative satisfied the legal requirements despite their opposition.
The final ruling from the justices found the wording was “not clearly and conclusively defective,” and that the amendment gave voters “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.”
Last year, a poll from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found 82% of voters supported such an amendment.
“We’re obviously thrilled with the results,” said Ben Pollara manager of the “United for Care’ ballot drive. “The voice of Floridians will finally get to be heard on this issue.”
Republicans of the state’s legislative branch aren’t the only ones displeased with the initiative going to voters. Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Medical Association, and the Florida Sheriff’s Association are just a few others who believe marijuana has no place in the legitimate treatment of disease and illness.
They’ve chosen to ignore the countless bodies of research linking cannabis to the treatment of seizure disorders, chronic pain, PTSD, drug addiction, cancer, glaucoma, and nausea associated with conventional cancer treatments.
Politically, the measure could serve to help change the make-up of the Floridian government. Gov. Rick Scott and numerous legislators will be up for re-election at the same time voters cast their ballots on the medical marijuana initiative. In general, Democrats believe the overwhelming support for such a law could help push them into the Governor’s office and into the Legislature.
Regardless of the political effects, however, we should all support the push towards greater liberty and the freedom to choose a natural and effective medical treatment without fear of arrest.