June 25, 2014
After her father refused to illegally take medical marijuana to relieve his symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the founder of People United for Medical Marijuana took action. The group, which launched in 2009, has since started a petition to get the medical marijuana issue on the November 2014 general election ballot.
The petition was started in July of this year by United for Care, a campaign run by People United for Medical Marijuana, and has collected about 200,000 signatures so far. In order for the amendment to be placed on the ballot, a total of about 700,000 Florida registered voters needed to sign the petition before Feb. 1, 2014. Since there was a delay between reporting and confirming the signatures, United for Care hoped to collect the required signatures by the beginning of January 2014, and they did.
The proposed amendment would permit the use of marijuana by those who suffer from a debilitating medical condition, but would require those individuals to first obtain approval from their doctors. Diseases specifically mentioned in the amendment include cancer, glaucoma, and Parkinson’s disease; however, doctors would have discretion to prescribe marijuana whenever they believe the benefits of its use would outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
Recent polls have revealed that approximately 70 percent of Floridians are in favor of decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, although Florida voters in general still oppose its outright legalization. If the amendment is placed on the 2014 ballot, it would require a 60 percent vote in order to pass.
Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers declined to pass Senate Bill 1250, which would have exempted seriously ill Floridians from criminal penalties for using marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Now, Florida’s Republican legislative leaders seek to bar the proposed amendment from the ballot. The legislators’ brief, filed with the court on Nov. 8, 2013, and alleged that the proposal’s text and ballot summary is misleading and violates numerous constitutional standards.
Since the Court permitted the amendment to be placed on the ballot with the required number of signatures gathered before the deadline, registered Florida voters will vote on the issue in the November 2014 general election.
The decriminalization of the use of medical marijuana has been a precursor to outright legalization of marijuana in some states, however both Florida Law and Federal law prohibit the possession of marijuana. Depending on the amount of marijuana possessed, first time offenders can receive up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to a year imprisonment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Khonsari Law Group. We are skilled in handling criminal defense matters, including the drug related crimes of trafficking, possession, distribution, and prescription drug abuse.
Federal Law – 21 U.S.C. § 844(a) (2012).
Florida State Law – Fla. Stat. § 893.13 -http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.13.html