If organizers are successful, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote to amend the Constitution of Florida to allow ill Floridians legal access to medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. United for Care, a grassroots organization, is currently collecting signatures to ensure that Floridians get the chance to vote on medical marijuana in 2014.
The Florida Constitution can be amended through a ballot initiative process. The ballot initiative process is a form of direct democracy: to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, organizers must collect signatures from 8% of the total vote in the most recent gubernatorial election.
United for Care is attempting to collect the 700,000 required signatures from registered Florida voters to allow Floridians to vote on whether to approve medical marijuana. While on track to reach this goal, the group still needs more signatures. Please visit www.unitedforcare.org/petition to sign the petition. For a constitutional amendment to pass, 60% of voters must approve the amendment. A recent Quinnipaic University poll found that 82% of Floridians support legalizing medical marijuana. It is important that you sign the petition now because organizers of the campaign only have until February 1, 2014 to obtain the 700,000 signatures needed.
Nineteen states and Washington D.C. provide legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Studies show that medical marijuana helps individuals with HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer and chemotherapy, severe pain, and other debilitating illnesses. Further, many medical professionals support legal access to medical marijuana including the American College of Physicians, the Institute of Medicine, the American Public Health Association, and the American Nurses Association.
Specifically, the Florida amendment would allow adults (21 and older) to have legal access to medical marijuana if they suffer from a debilitating medical condition and a doctor recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient. Legalizing the use of medical marijuana in Florida would do nothing to change the draconian marijuana laws of the state. Possession of under 20 grams of marijuana for non-medical patients would still be a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, while possession of more than 20 grams or sale of any amount of marijuana is still a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
The experience in the 20 jurisdictions where medical marijuana is legal has shown that the plant helps individuals manage illness and pain without resulting to lethal, addictive narcotics such as Oxycontin. It also helps cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with appetite loss and nausea.