Medical weed petition moves forward

BY DARA KAM
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE – Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana this week sent 100,000 petitions to county elections supervisors, one of the first steps in getting the proposal before voters next year.

It’s the second shot for United for Care, the committee behind the petition drive, to get the proposal on the ballot. A similar plan received 58 percent of the vote in November, just shy of the 60 percent required for passage.

Local supervisors of elections have 30 days to validate at least 68,317 petitions to trigger scrutiny by the Florida Supreme Court, which signed off on the previous version last year on a 4-3 vote. United for Care needs 683,149 validated, signed petitions to get “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” on the November 2016 ballot.

Backers changed the name of the proposal as well as some of its language to address concerns expressed by the Supreme Court and used by opponents of the measure, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, to dissuade voters from approving it last fall.

The revamped measure clarifies that doctors cannot order medical marijuana for children without their parents’ approval. The sheriffs railed about the issue last year, raising the specter of “a joint in every backpack.”

The new language also clears up ambiguity about what diseases would make patients eligible for medical marijuana treatment, another major point of contention for the law enforcement opponents of last year’s measure.

The Florida Sheriffs Association is reviewing the revised plan and does not yet have a position on it.

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