The Florida Supreme Court’s Monday approval of ballot language for a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana virtually guarantees the state will join 20 states (and Washington, D.C.) that already allow it and eight states currently considering legislation to do so. Voters will get a chance to decide the issue at the polls Nov. 4.
Barring an unlikely change of heart among voters or outright fraud in a series of polls, the amendment will easily surpass the 60 percent threshhold required of ballot initiatives. In a November Quinipiac Poll, 70 percent of Republicans expressed support for a medical marijuana amendment. Overall support stood at 82 percent, with Democrats (87 percent) and independents (88 percent) even more supportive.
The Supreme Court decision didn’t come without political baggage. Political analysts and operatives have alleged the amendment is intended to buoy voter turnout for presumptive Democratic nominee Charlie Crist. The former governor, who switched parties after losing a U.S. Senate bid to Sen. Marco Rubio, works for attorney John Morgan, who personally bankrolled much of the signature drive that won the amendment a spot on the ballot.
On the flip side of that assertion is the thinking that GOP opposition to the ballot measure, including a legal challenge by Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, was intended to protect Gov. Rick Scott from a tidal wave of pro-marijuana voters. Like Forrest Gump, we’re inclined to believe “it’s a little bit of both.”
We have long called for a new approach to marijuana policy in Florida, especially with regard to medical marijuana. We look forward to a reasoned public debate of the issue that the amendment will bring.