Today is pretty much Super Bowl Sunday for the medical marijuana issues here in Florida, at least for the next year. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over the 75 words proponents want to include on next year's ballot, an initiative that would open the doors for doctors to prescribe the good green in needed cases.
Fighting the issue are the usual suspects - tight-assed Republicans, here led by Attorney General Pam Bondi - who claim the ballot is really just a way to outfit every Florida man, woman, and child with a weed addiction. But depending on which way the high court rolls after today's debate, Florida may soon be the next state in the weed game, or the whole progressive effort might be tossed back to the starting line.
Fighting for pro-ballot side is People United for Medical Marijuana. The group maintains that the language they've laid out for the ballot is clear and straight-shooting. Bondi and Co, however, say the legalese therein contained is actually vague, providing no structure on when medical marijuana would be appropriate.
But the real open secret here about today's court date? It has nothing to do with medical marijuana, and everything to do with Rick Scott's scramble to keep the governor's office.
See, if the weed measure makes it onto the ballot, it's expected to bring out more Democratic voters, as well as middle-of-the-road folks who could care less about Rick Scott but are willing to support marijuana reform.
The latest polls suggest 82 percent of people favor the measure. Couple that issue on a ballot with a governor's race, and you have a influx of progressive-leaning voters at the booth on Election Day. The likely Dem nominee, Charlie Crist (a man who has never missed a self-serving opportunity in his life) has already come out in favor the ballot.
If the Supreme Court doesn't knee-cap the ballot push after today's argument, backers have until February 1 to collected 683,149 signatures, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Supporters claim they're already in the neighborhood of 500,000. If the judges side with Bondi, the issue is dead for the next year.
Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.