Florida's Supreme Court To Hear Medical Marijuana Legalization Debate | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Florida's Supreme Court To Hear Medical Marijuana Legalization Debate

Looks like medical weed will finally have its day, as the Florida Supreme Court has set a date to hear arguments about whether a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana should be put on the ballot next November.

The arguments have been set for December 5.

Florida GOPers, for their part, are doing what they can to keep this thing from going forward.

On Wednesday, Florida House Speaker Will Weatheford, along with Senate President Don Gaetz, said they'll be filing a brief to the Supreme Court opposing the ballot initiative.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has already started the ball rolling to try and derail the initiative, saying that the wording on the petition originally sent to the Supreme Court to get a hearing was ambiguous, suggesting that there was more there than meets the eye. Basically, Bondi said that if the amendment is passed, doctors will be giving away free pot to anyone willy-nilly.

Gaetz sent a memo echoing Bondi's sentiments to all senators saying that "regardless of the subject matter or whether we personally support the proposed petition initiative, efforts to hide the ball or appeal to voters by using language that evokes emotional responses are not appropriate for ballot titles and summaries of proposed constitutional amendments. This is a lesson in checks and balances that the Legislature has, in recent years, often been reminded of the hard way."

In August, People United for Medical Marijuana set about to collect signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the initiative's language. They even placed an ad on Craigslist to hire people to help get signatures.

The groups sent an email saying they've collected over 200,000 signatures so far.

In an email, Ben Pollara, the group's campaign manager, said that Bondi, Weatherford, and Gaetz are looking to do whatever it takes to derail the petition.

"They don't want to the public to know that in the twenty states-plus where medical marijuana is legal, society has not broken down," he says. "It has not caused crime to go up. It hasn't led to an epidemic of addiction. It has, however, helped people with cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, neurological diseases and injuries, epilepsy, MS and numerous other conditions. It's our job to tell voters the truth. We have a challenge ahead - but we have already made enormous, unprecedented progress."

The debate will surely grow from this point on. But this is as close as Florida has ever gotten to legalize medical marijuana.

Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter