Supreme Court OKs medical marijuana for ballot - WFLA News Channel 8

Supreme Court OKs medical marijuana for ballot

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TALLAHASSEE, FL (WFLA) - Florida could potentially become the first state in the south to legalize medicinal marijuana if voters approve a constitutional amendment saying so.

The state Supreme Court voted narrowly in a 4-3 decision Monday to allow the question to make it to the ballot. It was a victory for personal injury lawyer John Morgan, who spent $4 million on a medical marijuana petition drive.
 
Related story: Medical marijuana has enough signatures for ballot

 "In our businesses, our cases are against the tobacco industries, pharmaceutical industries, big car companies, so we're used to gambles, but we take calculated gambles," Morgan said. "We like to win and we don't just go down a rat hole unless we think we can win."

Attorney General Pam Bondi fought the drive and said the case is now up to the voters.

"The proposal 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," Bondi said in a memo about the proposal. "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.' The problem is that this language, which appears nowhere in the amendment, misleads voters about the amendment's true scope, purpose, and effect. If voters are asked to open Florida to expansive marijuana use, they deserve to know it."

Sixty percent of Floridians would have to vote for the amendment in the November election for it to pass.

Moriah Barnhart vows to do everything in her power to make that happen. She is the mother of a 3-year-old girl named Dahlia, who has brain cancer. Barnhart moved to Colorado from Florida because she wants doctors to be able to use a medical-grade derivative of the marijuana plant to kill Dahlia's cancer cells.
 
Related story:
Tampa mom wants medical marijuana for daughter


 "Cannabis was the most viable and effective option," she said in a Skype interview with News Channel 8 on Monday. "The fact that morphine is addictive and even deadly does not keep it out of the hands of the suffering. And the supposed fear of abuse by some can no longer justify the denial of its medicinal benefits to millions of suffering."

State House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel, said he hopes voters reject the idea. I have faith they will do their homework and understand the impact of this truly radical proposal," Weatherford said in a statement issued through a spokesman to the Associated Press. "Make no mistake: this is not about compassionate medical marijuana. This is about the Coloradofication of Florida, where the end game is a pot shop on every street corner."

Polls have shown strong support for the measure in Florida.

"Now the people of Florida get to do what the Florida Legislature refused to do, which is to hear evidence, to see testimony, to hear real life stories, to read scientific journals, to talk to real people and then vote on it," Morgan said.

He plans a voter registration drive and advertising campaign leading up to the election, as well as an effort to help supporters get to polls.

The Democrats hoping to challenge Governor Rick Scott - former state Sen. Nan Rich and former Gov. Charlie Crist support medical marijuana.

"This is an issue of compassion, trusting doctors, and trusting the people of Florida," said Crist, who was a Republican when he served as governor from 2007 to 2011. "I will vote for it."

*Content from the Associated Press was used in this report

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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