Pubdate: Thu, 06 Nov 2014
Source: Bradenton Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2014 Bradenton Herald
Author: Kate Irby


The amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida was defeated
Tuesday, but its proponents aren't yet throwing in the towel.

"The amendment still got 500,000 more votes than our elected governor,
so the people have spoken," said Ben Pollara, spokesman for the United
for Care campaign which was in favor of the amendment.

Amendment 2 garnered 3,357,537 votes of approval, or 57.6 percent, but
needed 60 percent in order to pass as a Constitutional amendment.
Re-elected Gov. Rick Scott received 2,859,199 votes.

Lawyer John Morgan, the leading proponent of the amendment, counted
the vote as a victory for medical-marijuana legalization. He said he
would take the fight to Tallahassee next, and, should that fail, put
the issue on the 2016 ballot.

"The governor and the leadership of the House and Senate must listen
to the people who gave them their jobs. They must act on this issue,"
Morgan wrote in a release. "They must pass a medical marijuana law in
the 2015 session that serves the hundreds of thousands of sick and
suffering Floridians who are desperate for one. If they don't -- we'll
be back on the ballot in 2016. And the will of the people will not be
denied a second time."

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said he would be glad to see
discussions about medical marijuana in the Florida Legislature, and
that he believes that would be the proper forum for possible
legalization. He said sheriffs of Florida would be happy to weigh in
on the debate.

"There are not a whole lot of changes that can happen once a
Constitutional amendment is passed," Steube said. "In the Legislature,
we can have more research into a non-smokeable form and have stricter
guidelines with more oversight."

Steube said while it was important that 57 percent of Floridians
thought medical marijuana should be legalized, the issue needed more
research both at the state and federal levels.

The first step, he said, would be for the Food and Drug Administration
to take marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled
substance. That way legal and controlled research could be done into
marijuana's potential medical benefits.

Cathy Jordan, a Parrish resident who uses cannabis to treat her ALS
and who is the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, said
she's hopeful that state legislators will craft a bill to legalize
medical marijuana. She and her husband, Bob Jordan, have been working
for years to legalize medical marijuana.

"We've been screaming, 'Someone pay attention to this issue!' And now,
it's on the forefront," Bob Jordan said. "I think we'll get more
respect this time."

Bob Jordan said getting 60 percent of the vote would be a tall order
for anything, but the amendment failing was by no means a loss.

"It's hard to get 60 percent of people to agree on what time of the
day it is," Bob Jordan said. "In any other situation, this would've
been a landslide."
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