Medical marijuana approved by Florida voters
It was a big day for pot in America.
Florida voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing seriously ill patients the right to medical marijuana, a victory for decriminalization supporters who narrowly lost a similar ballot fight two years ago.
According to unofficial results Tuesday night, Amendment 2 had more than 71 percent of the vote. At least 60 percent is required for approval.
United for Care, a political group largely bankrolled by Orlando attorney John Morgan, has been the amendment's primary backer.
"A landslide doesn't even begin to describe it, and I think it speaks well for the people of Florida," Morgan said. "They weren't tricked by really terrible arguments, and they're compassionate people, and they love each other, and they decided it wasn't ever going to happen in Tallahassee. So they took it in their own hands."
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proposal to legalize medical marijuana earned nearly 58 percent of the vote in 2014, just shy of the needed margin.
Opponents, who received most of their funding from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and St. Petersburg real estate developer Mel Sembler, argued that legalization would make it easier for children to get marijuana and would lead to a proliferation of seedy neighborhood pot shops.
Their political group, Drug Free Florida, conceded defeat shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday. In a written statement, it said its next battle will be in the Legislature.
"The authors of Amendment 2 have long maintained that the legislature has wide discretion to regulate the implementation of Amendment 2 for the health, safety and welfare of all Floridians," the statement read. "Therefore, we implore the legislature to take the authors of Amendment 2 at their word by passing implementing legislation that bans pot candy, puts a limit on THC levels, tightly defines 'other debilitating medical conditions,' and gives local communities the right to limit, restrict, and outright ban pot shops."
The newly approved Amendment 2 allows patients with illnesses of the “same kind or class as or comparable to” cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy to obtain marijuana through state-approved doctors and state-approved dispensaries.
According to one state estimate, about 450,000 Floridians would qualify to use the drug under these rules.
Florida law already permits patients with certain conditions, such as uncontrollable seizures, to use non-euphoric types of cannabis – such as the so-called “Charlotte’s Web” strain. Another law adopted this year allows terminally ill patients to use full-strength marijuana.
Amendment 2 won more than 70 percent of the vote in Lee County, where it won 55 percent two years ago.
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