It's tough times here in the key battleground state of Florida, there's only one option on the ballot to push marijuana legalization forward: the Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions, otherwise known as Amendment 2. The more liberal use act, The Florida Cannabis Act (#15-19), will not be on the November 8th ballot.
Under Amendment 2, marijuana will be considered a legal treatment for patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
In Florida, early elections have already kicked off, and a 60 percent supermajority vote is needed for the amendment to pass. But voters in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., are reporting that Amendment 2 is not even on their ballots, according to Fox 13, which could be a problematic legal issue beyond marijuana legislation.
Amendment 2 was voted on in 2014, and lost, but went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Despite strong opposition by conservatives like Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi in the past, there is much more support for Amendment 2 this time around.
Republicans like Republican Senator Marco Rubio are open to limited medical marijuana, and earlier this year Republican Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that allows terminally ill patients to have access to marijuana as they try to ease suffering. Also in support of medical marijuana legalization is long-time Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who told the Tampa Bay Times in 2014 that cannabis is a powerful medicine used by many people in desperate situations.
John Barnes, 29, a Jacksonville, Fla. resident and republican, voted against Amendment 2 in 2014, but is planning to vote in support of Amendment 2 in 2016.
"In 2015 my mother was diagnosed with stage III C ovarian cancer," said Barnes. "Over the last year, I witnessed her literally fight for her life, battling the disease with chemo treatments, surgeries, rehab and while my mother didn't use medical marijuana, I want to be sure people with debilitating diseases have all the tools they need to fight for their lives and still maintain a good quality of life."
There's also a loophole that actually makes Amendment 2 much more broad: Licensed physicians are actually able to prescribe their patients to use medical marijuana if they suffer from "other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated," according to Article 5, Section 29 of the amendment.
Florida resident John Mangan, 66, said he is just happy the state is taking steps forward and against criminalization.
"I would really be in favor for medical marijuana passing," Mangan said. "But, it's a lot better than it used to be here. Twenty years ago you'd be hauled off to prison. It's always seemed like such an unfair prosecution—being such a benign drug."
If you're voting in Florida, a "yes" vote means you support legalizing medical marijuana for individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician. A "no" vote means you oppose the proposal for the legalization of medical marijuana, keeping the state's current, more limited medical marijuana program in place.
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