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Posted: 10:48 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013

Medical marijuana to go before Florida Supreme Court for first time


By Gene Wexler


Tallahassee has repeatedly blocked legislative votes on medical marijuana.

On Thursday they'll ask the Florida Supreme Court to follow their lead and prevent state voters from deciding on the issue in 2014.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is leading the opposition.  They say the proposed state constitutional amendment would lead to “unfettered” marijuana legalization under the guise of medicine.

“They would argue that the decriminalization of marijuana for treatment of patients is also setting up a system for the commercial production and distribution of marijuana, and it also broadens criminal immunity, among other things,” says John Kennedy, a veteran reporter at the Palm Beach Post who has covered Tallahassee since 1989.

The amendment is backed by the political committee known as People United for Medical Marijuana, which argues that the people of Florida want medical marijuana.  The sponsor is led by Orlando lawyer John Morgan, Broward County consultant Ben Pollara, and University of Florida law Dean Emeritus John Mills.

Morgan has told WOKV that he was convinced medical marijuana worked when he saw the effect it had on his father who was suffering from cancer.  He says most people who study marijuana and read about it “know it works.”

John Kennedy says that the Attorney General’s office will argue against the actual language of the amendment that would go on the ballot next year.  The ballot’s summary language has drawn much criticism, as it says medical marijuana would be reserved for those who suffer from “debilitating diseases.”  Their office argues that the language is open to wide interpretation.

“The decision by the Supreme Court will be pretty crucial,” John Kennedy tells WOKV.

Kennedy says if the Supreme Court strikes down the ballot measure, People United for Medical Marijuana will probably not have enough time to get the 683,149 signatures needed by February 1 to get the amendment on the 2014 ballot.

That doesn’t mean the issue would be dead though.  A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed that 82 percent of Floridians support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical use if it’s prescribed by a doctor.

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