Voters to Decide on Medical Marijuana Following Florida Supreme Court Vote
Published January 28th, 2014
GAINESVILLE -- Medical marijuana in the state of Florida may soon no longer be just a pipe dream following a vote late Monday by the state Supreme Court.
In a narrow 4-3 decision, justices on the state's high court approved the language of a ballot initiative that would put medical marijuana on the November ballot.
The push began last year after prominent personal injury attorney John Morgan began using millions of his own money to spearhead the effort.
If passed, the measure would make Florida the 21st state to allow the medicinal use of marijuana.
Proponents of the initiative, like Jordan Shepherd of Gainesville, say they are hopeful it will pass.
"People take oxycodone, and every type of pharmaceutical drug you can imagine, when you can use cannabis instead," said Shepherd, who is also the vice-president of the Gainesville chapter of NORML, a non-profit that works to reform America's marijuana laws.
"Cannabis has never killed anyone," he said.
But critics of the ballot initiative say many of the underlying issues surrounding pot, like its addictive nature, are being ignored.
"I'm not a doctor, but I have a lot of experience in this field, and I have seen people that were clearly addicted to marijuana," said former Hawthorne mayor John Martin, who went through his own battle with substance abuse and used to council others with substance abuse problems.
"We need to have an honest conversation about what this entails with the citizens of Florida before they vote on it in November -- and I don't think we've had that yet," said Martin.
More than one million signatures were collected statewide in support of the ballot initiative. The Supervisor of Elections office says 18,000 of those were collected in Alachua County.
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