by Jessica Newman
Supporters of medical marijuana in Florida need approximately 683,000 signatures by Feb. 1 to put the issue on the ballot in November, but organizers from People United for Medical Marijuana (running the petition campaign) already collected more than 900,000 at press time.
Even if supporters collect enough signatures by the deadline (which looks likely), the Florida Supreme Court still must rule on the legality of the amendment before it appears on the ballot. State officials challenged the initiative, and the parties argued before the state Supreme Court on Dec. 5.
According to Reuters, “Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi and the state’s Republican political leadership contend that the ballot language improperly implies that the state can trump fed eral restrictions on marijuana. They also have argued that allowing marijuana use for medical ‘conditions’ might allow doctors to prescribe it for anxiety, stress or other non-critical ailments.”
The proposed summary of the amendment is: “Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate cen- ters that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.”
You can see the full language of the proposed amendment and the ballot language by searching for “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions 13-02” at the Florida Division of Elections website, election.dos.state.fl.us.
The language of the amendment permits prescriptions, at the judgment of a licensed physician, for ailments such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, chronic pain, and epilepsy.
If more than 60 percent of voters approve the amendment in November, Florida will become the first state in the South to le- galize medical marijuana. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
To sign the petition, make a contribution to the cause, or learn more, visit the website of People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) at www.unitedforcare.org.
The petition must be downloaded and mailed to PUFMM, and all signatures must be delivered by Feb. 1. You must be a registered voter in the state of Florida for your signature to count. So time is of the essence!
Visit www.unitedforcare.org/petition to download and print the petition, or to find a nearby location where you can pick up a blank petition.