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One more hurdle after medical marijuana initiative achieves valid signature requirements in Florida

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January 24, 2014

By Ryan Byrne

The Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative has garnered more than enough valid signatures to be placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Florida.[1] As of 4:00 P.M. EST on January 24, the Florida Division of Elections verified the current signature count to be 710,508.[2] People United for Medical Marijuana, the initiative’s primary sponsor, announced that well over a million signatures were filed for the measure on January 15.[3] Proponents were required to obtain a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by February 1, 2014. The initiative to legalize medical marijuana still has one major hurdle before certification, namely, the Florida Supreme Court.

On December 5, 2013, the high court held a hearing on the validity, accuracy and constitutionality of the measure's language.[4] This is a mandatory protocol for all proposed initiatives prior to certification. The initiative, however, is facing opposition from Attorney General Pam Bondi (R). She argued, "The proposal [language] hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless 'other conditions' specified by any physician. With no 'condition' off limits, physicians could authorize marijuana for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age. But rather than tell voters of this extraordinary scope, the summary uses language to prey on voters' understandable sympathies for Florida's most vulnerable patients — those suffering 'debilitating diseases." PolitiFact Florida rated her statement as "mostly true."[5] Solicitor General Allen Winsor went as far as saying that "other conditions" may include people who "don't even have to have a disease."[4] The Supreme Court will issue their conclusion about the measure's text by April 1, 2014, potentially putting the measure on the ballot or potentially killing the initiative.[6] The measure language under consideration reads:[7]

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 centers 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.[8]

A positive evaluation from the court would allow the medical marijuana measure to be certified as "Measure 2" alongside "Measure 1," which was certified one week ago.

See also