Last year, Florida voters failed to approve an amendment that would legalize medical marijuana by a narrow margin. Now, in 2015, there are new efforts to propose legalizing marijuana statewide—for both medical and recreational use.
As International Business Times reports, State Representative Greg Steube of Sarasota has filed a new bill proposing the medical use of marijuana. The bill calls for low-THC cannabis access for sufferers of serious medical conditions such as cancer, AIDs, epilepsy, and terminal illnesses where the patient has one year left to live, among others.
Additionally, Regulate Florida is a new political committee that wants to push for the legalization of recreational marijuana. According to The Broward Palm Beach New Times, the organization has recently given clearance by the Department of State to begin their signature collection phase. Their petition will only need 683,000 signatures to get on the 2016 ballot.
United for Care is another grassroots organization that is seeking the establishment of strong medical marijuana laws. Hoping to avoid another narrow defeat, the organization is already hard at work collecting signatures. "Last time... our staff was working 18-hour days all through the holidays and this time I believe we will have effectively put this thing to bed well before Christmas,” Campaign Manager Ben Pollara of United for Care told reporters this summer.
Mixed Support for Marijuana Reform
These multiple campaign and proposal efforts are indicative of the changing public perception of marijuana. States like Colorado and Washington are still early in their legal marijuana "experiments," but a growing number of states, Florida included, are now producing very serious marijuana legislature for consideration. Many polls show that a majority of Americans are in favor of some form of legal marijuana, a shift in opinion that was evident on Florida’s 2014 ballot: while falling short of the required 60% of votes needed to pass the medical marijuana bill, a full 58% approved of the measure.
Still, there is significant resistance to marijuana law reform. Calvina Fay, the executive director of the Drug-Free American Foundation, shared her hesitance to the proposed medical marijuana petitions in Florida. "There are still very significant, fatal flaws in it. They didn’t change the fact that they’re creating a big marijuana industry."
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