Florida’s failure to pass medical marijuana was the biggest bummer of the 2014 midterm elections. Undeterred by the setback, John Morgan, the more or less spokesperson/mascot for Amendment 2, promised to try again in 2016.
Making good on the promise, Morgan has now filed a revised version of Amendment 2 with the Florida Secretary of State’s office.
Speaking with the Naples Daily News, Morgan assured cannabis supporters that there will be few changes to the amendment. “The language and the essence of the amendment is essentially the same,” said Morgan. “What I would say is that we have tweaked or clarified positions that were constantly brought up by our opposition.”
One of the major talking points opponents brought up during the election was how “vague” Amendment 2 was. According to the political action committee, Vote No on 2, Amendment 2 was full of loopholes that would allow anyone to get marijuana and that the bill would essentially be defacto legalization.
As the third most populous state in the nation, Florida medical marijuana could become one of the largest, if not the largest, medical marijuana state in the country.
Morgan told the Tampa Bay Times that the new version of the bill would contain four key differences from the original bill. The changes are as follows:
- Adds clarifying language that the Department of Health must verify parental consent before a doctor proscribes marijuana to a minor.
- Clarifies which debilitating conditions are eligible and rules out all non-debilitating conditions.
- Clarifies that doctors who proscribe marijuana cannot be arrested for proscribing marijuana but they are not immune to prosecution for negligence or malpractice.
- Clarifies that the Department of Health must establish quality standards for caregivers.
While no one is expecting these changes to completely silence the opposition, they will certainly take a little of the bite out of the opposition’s talking points. Throughout the campaign, Amendment 2 opponents asserted they weren’t against medical marijuana, they were against the language of Amendment 2.
As Polk County Sherriff, and chief opponent of Amendment 2, Grady Judd said in one debate: “If they had written that constitutional amendment tighter, then we wouldn’t be here having this discussion.” Now that the language is tighter, let’s see if we wind up having this discussion again.
Before this new constitutional amendment gets to the ballots, it is going to have to be approved by the courts to ensure that the amendment does not violate the existing state constitution. After court approval, supporters must gather 700,000 signatures.
The odds of medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida are very high. If the legislature doesn’t act, although it seems likely it will, then this proposed amendment should finish the job. Medical marijuana may have failed in Florida once, but don’t expect that to happen again.