Name: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions Initiative
Ballot Number: Amendment 2
Front Group: United for Care
Backer: Trial lawyer John Morgan
Key Provision: Qualifying debilitating conditions in language.
Because of Florida’s importance as a bellwether in American politics, the out-come of this medical cannabis state voter initiative—the second in Florida in the last two years—has national implications second only to California’s legalization ballot measure this year.
Passage of Amendment 2 would permit qualified patients to possess and obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. The permitted conditions are: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and “other debilitating medical conditions.” Cannabis would be produced and dispensed at Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers registered with the Department of Health. No home growing would be allowed.
In most other states where the initiative process was successfully employed by reformers to legalize medical access, a bare voter majority was all that was needed to effect massive sociolegal changes. However, United for Care has chosen instead to attempt to legalize medical cannabis via a voter-approved amendment to the state’s constitution— out of deep distrust of the legislature and governor to “do the right thing” regarding cannabis. Constitutional amendments in Florida must be passed by 60% of the voters. In 2014, United for Care came within two percentage points of prevailing, with 58% support—a political slam-dunk in other states.
This year’s version of Amendment 2 differs slightly from the previous one; it limits how many patients a cannabis caregiver can treat, better defines what a qualifying debilitating condition is and
clarifies the rules for parental consent for minors being treated with medical cannabis.
Cannabis law reformers have rarely drawn opposition from an anti-pot billionaire. But, vexingly, because the stakes are so high for so-called social conservatives attempting to maintain a “national” marijuana prohibition, reformers are again facing over $5 million in opposition funding from right-wing Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Without this infamous political gadfly’s out-of-state financial support, medical cannabis very likely would already be a reality in the Sunshine State.
John Morgan’s law firm, The Morgan Firm, has donated $2.6 million to United for Care—two-thirds of the campaign’s $3.8 million war chest. The opposition is backed by Adelson, who has funneled money to Drug Free Florida (which has contributed $1.8 million to defeat Amendment 2); Mel Sembler ($1 million); and the Carol Jenkins Barnett Trust ($800,000). Jenkins is the daughter of George Jenkins, the founder of the Publix Super Markets chain.
According to a recent statewide poll, 68% of Florida voters support passage of the amendment.
— Allen St. Pierre
This is part of Freedom Leaf’s 2016 State-By-State Ballot Initiative Guide.