The Tuesday Count: First marijuana measure is certified for 2014 ballot
Edited by Brittany ClingenFlorida voters will decide whether or not to approve the use of medical marijuana on the upcoming November ballot, after what is now known as Amendment 2 became the first marijuana-related measure to be certified for a ballot in 2014. Though measures addressing medical and recreational marijuana are in the works in at least 13 other states, Florida's initiative crossed the finish line first. On Monday, January 27, the initiated constitutional amendment cleared the final hurdle on its path to the ballot when the Florida Supreme Court approved the measure's language in a 4-3 decision. Personal injury lawyer John Morgan, who is helping the group People United for Medical Marijuana sponsor the measure, spent significant time and money - $4 million, to be exact - to ensure enough signatures were collected before the Supreme Court ruled on the language. The deadline for petition signatures in Florida is February 1, 2014, and supporters would not have had enough time to gather the required 683,149 signatures if they had waited for the court's approval before circulating the petition.
If the measure is passed by voters in November, it will legalize the cultivation, purchase, possession and use of marijuana to treat medical conditions when recommended by a licensed physician. It will also order the Florida Department of Health to register and regulate producers and distributions of medical marijuana and to issue identification cards to patients and caregivers utilizing it. Approval of the measure would make Florida the twenty-first state, in addition to Washington D.C., to allow the drug for medical use. As far as marijuana measures goes, Florida's is likely to prove more divisive than most, with many speculating that it will play a role in the selection of the state's next governor.
Support of the measure, or lack thereof, is being drawn down party lines, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing the measure. Current governor Rick Scott (R) has expressed his disapproval of the measure, saying, "I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But having seen the terrible effects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it. No matter my personal beliefs, however, a ballot initiative would be up to the voters to decide." Conversely, two of Scott's challengers for the gubernatorial mansion, former Republican governor Charlie Crist - now running as a Democrat - and former state senator Nan Rich (D), have come out in support of the measure. Polls taken in November 2013 and January 2014 show strong public support for legalizing medicinal marijuana in the state, though the margin of support decreased approximately 17 points in two months. Polling for the governor's office is less decisive, with an apparent lead for Crist in a race against Scott but consistent support for Scott if he squares off against Rich. The marijuana measure joins Amendment 1, another initiated constitutional amendment, on the November 4 ballot. If Amendment 1 is approved, it will dedicate thirty-three percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
|States:||Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming|
Congressman wants casino authorization on Nebraska ballot: State Senator Russ Karpisek (I-32) introduced legislation to put casino gambling on the statewide ballot. The unicameral legislature must pass the bill by a 60% vote in order for constituents to have the opportunity to vote on the matter. The measure would permit the authorization, regulation and taxation of casino gambling operations and allow for local referendums on the locations of casinos. Ho-Chunk Inc. is pushing for the measure and already has plans for a $30 million casino in South Sioux City.
Michigan Tea Party activists propose part-time legislature: The Committee to Restore Michigan's Part-Time Legislature (CRMPTL), which is associated with the Tea Party movement, filed a Part-Time Legislature Initiative in the state. The measure, upon voter approval, would establish a part-time legislature and cap legislator compensation. Some Democrats and Republicans voiced opposition to the measure, citing the need for a legislative branch equal in power to the executive branch, compensation levels that allow lower and middle-class people to seek office and concerns regarding lobbyist power.
Minimum wage committee forms in Michigan: Raise Michigan formed a ballot measure committee on January 27 in order to launch a Minimum Wage Initiative. The group has yet to decide how much of a minimum wage increase they will be fighting for or whether they will pursue their cause as an indirect initiated state statute or an initiated constitutional amendment. They indicated that they will call for an increase somewhere between $9.00 and $10.10 per hour. Raise Michigan is composed of local and statewide progressive and labor organizations and has received the support of the AFL-CIO, with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce opposing the measure. Supporters will need to collect valid signatures by July 7, 2014 to get the measure on the ballot.
Montana medicaid expansion initiative refiled for third time: The Medicaid Expansion Initiative was refiled for the third time in Montana on January 23, after the proposed measure's language was recently deemed unconstitutional by the Attorney General. The initiative would have appropriated money to fund a Medicaid expansion immediately following the initiative's approval. Only the Montana Legislature can appropriate money, however. The Attorney General recommended that the controversial language be removed and the measure be resubmitted. The new language cannot force the legislature to appropriate money, so, even if it is approved, there is no guarantee that the initiative will be implemented.
What may be the last county-wide, citizen initiated measure seeking to ban the production and cultivation of genetically modified organisms in Oregon is already facing a war-chest of $65,000 from opposing agencies, including beet sugar producers from southern Minnesota. On October 3, 2013, Oregon legislators approved Senate Bill 863 in a 17-12 vote. The bill prohibits Oregon counties, other than Jackson County, from regulating or banning genetically modified organisms. SB 863 claimed an emergency status in order to preclude efforts, similar to those of the Jackson County measure, against GMOs in Benton and Lane counties. This development threw a spotlight on the Jackson county measure, as it is likely the last such initiative that will be seen in Oregon. The Jackson measure, in turn, attracted large donors opposing the anti-GMO effort. The following chart shows the latest campaign contributions to the "No on Measure 15-119" campaign, while the supporters have yet to report any contributions or expenditures.
|Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative||$20,000|
|American Crystal Sugar Co.||$10,000|
|Oregon Farm Bureau||$25,000|
Although Oregon residents opposed to GMOs can no long initiate ballot measures banning genetically modified products at the county level, there is no such restriction in California, where activists have begun collecting signatures for a measure that would ban propagation, cultivation, raising and growing of GMOs in Humboldt County. Though fighting GMOs county-wide appears to be a losing battle for Oregonians, there is still an effort to land a ballot measure requiring the labeling of all food that contains genetically modified organisms on the 2014 state-wide ballot.
History appears to be repeating itself, as a group filed petitions on January 15, 2014, to overturn via referendum a Lake County ordinance regulating and restricting the cultivation of marijuana. In 2012, the county supervisors passed a similar ordinance and were immediately faced with a successful referendum petition effort by the Lake County Citizens for Responsible Regulations and Lake County Green Farmers Association; both entities are members of the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation (CABICC), the group behind the current referendum measure. The 2012 effort left supervisors with the option of rescinding their own law or sending it to a vote of the people. The county board decided to directly repeal the ordinance themselves. However, this time around, a fiercer battle is expected, as the county supervisors anticipated opposition and, reportedly, plan to uphold their ordinance as a necessary regulation of the controversial crop. They plan to appeal to the county electors to approve it in a June vote.
The CABICC, consisting of and supported by many groups and organizations, both local, state-wide and national, has turned in about 4,200 signatures. The county registrar of voters has until February 28, 2014 to ascertain if 2,115 of these are valid, in which case the measure would go to the June ballot. The CABICC and others who support the referendum and oppose the county ordinance argue that the regulations are too strict, difficult to enforce and impede the ability of legal marijuana farmers from providing necessary medical marijuana. CABICC Campaign Manager Daniel McLean said, "One thing that we hear from the community development department and the Sheriff's Department is that they do not have the funds or resources to adequately enforce the laws. So, to create a new rule that's more restrictive and doesn't create any new funding doesn't fix the problem."
| 2014 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2014 Scorecard|
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- ABC News, "Fla. High Court OKs Medical Marijuana for Ballot," January 27, 2014
- Florida Department of State, "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions," accessed January 14, 2014
- ProCon.org, "Medical Marijuana," accessed January 28, 2014
- Nebraska Legislature, "LR416CA," accessed January 27, 2014
- Sioux City Journal, "Ho-Chunk pushes for casino gambling in Nebraska," January 25, 2014
- Washington Post, "Michigan Tea Partiers want to end full-time legislature," January 27, 2014
- Morning Sun, "Just say 'no' to part-time Legislature," November 29, 2013
- Michigan Radio, "Part-time Michigan Legislature could mean more power for bureaucrats and lobbyists," December 13, 2013
- Michigan Radio, "Governing Michigan – a part-time job?," January 26, 2014
- The Detroit News, "Groups plan to form ballot campaign to raise Michigan's minimum wage," January 27, 2014 (dead link)
- The Tribune, "Advocates resubmit Medicaid expansion proposal after Mont. attorney general questions spending," January 23, 2014
- The Oregonian, "GMO bill clears Oregon Senate (2013 special session)," October 2, 2013
- The Oregonian, "Oregon supporters of GMO labeling clear big hurdle for 2014 initiative as they try to woo funders ," December 6, 2013
- Record-Bee, "Referendum signatures filed against marijuana ordinance," January 15, 2014
- Lake County News, "Political action committee launches referendum on marijuana cultivation ordinance," December 24, 2014
- Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation website," accessed January 28, 2014