Florida justices approve medical marijuana amendment for ballotby John Kennedy | January 27th, 2014
The Florida Supreme Court in a split decision ruled Monday that voters can decide this fall on whether to legalize medical marijuana, rejecting arguments from the state’s Republican leaders that the proposed ballot measure is unconstitutionally flawed.
The 4-3 ruling also has implications for the governor’s race this fall. Republican Gov. Rick Scott opposes allowing Floridians to obtain prescriptions for pot use while Democrats Charlie Crist and Nan Rich are supporting the proposed amendment.
Justices were asked to rule whether the proposed language of the citizens’ initiative meets constitutional standards. Opponents, who included most of the state’s Republican leadership, argued that the proposal involved more than one subject, confused voters, or made them think they are endorsing something they’re not.
Justices said the measure passed muster.
“We conclude that the proposed amendment has a logical and natural oneness of purpose—namely, whether Floridians want a provision in the state constitution authorizing the medical use of marijuana, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, under Florida law,” the court majority wrote.
Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James Perry ruled in favor of the amendment. Chief Justice Ricky Polston and Justices Charles Canady and Jorge Labarga wrote the measure should be struck from the ballot.
Twenty states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of marijuana for treatment of a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and epilepsy.
Eleven of the states have enacted such laws through ballot measures, similar to that promoted in Florida by the organization, United for Care.