Pot Initiatives Blaze Ahead in Miami Beach and Tallahassee

Reefer common sense might finally be on its way to the Sunshine State. Last week, both a statewide push for a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana and a local move in Miami Beach blazed a little closer to reality.

In Miami Beach, voters going to the polls in November to elect a new mayor will also get the chance to answer a nonbinding straw ballot question on whether the City Commission should adopt a resolution urging the federal government and the Florida Legislature to decriminalize and approve the medicinal use of marijuana. On the statewide level, the effort to collect signatures for a vote on an amendment hit 100,000 and headed to the Supreme Court for a language review.

With polls showing that upward of 70 percent of Floridians back medical pot, activists say 2014 could be the year the state catches up with progressive weed havens like Washington state, California, and Colorado.

"There was a ton of work, time, and effort that was put into Miami Beach, and something needed to happen with relation to its marijuana policy," says Eric Stevens, one of the organizers behind Sensible Florida, the group that collected the signatures. "It may not be 100 percent of what we were asking for, but it is a great start."

The Miami Beach City Commission quietly approved the straw-ballot language in July after Stevens' group gathered more than 8,000 signatures from voters in support of a measure to remove criminal penalties for anyone caught with small amounts of weed.

The news on the local straw-ballot question comes the same week that People United for Medical Marijuana, or PUFMM, announced it had enough signatures to get a Supreme Court review.

If the group can collect at least 683,149 verified signatures by February 1, the amendment will go on the 2014 November ballot. Then 60 percent of Florida voters would need to approve the amendment for it to be adopted.

Currently 20 states in the union have legalized medical marijuana in some form. Washington and Colorado became the first states to outright legalize pot for recreational use. However, the federal government continues to enforce marijuana prohibition laws in states that have legalized weed.

The Miami Beach petition drive began in 2010, seeking to give pot smokers civil fines instead of criminal charges, a move that states and cities around the country have passed. But Sensible Florida had to sue the city because Miami Beach officials kept delaying putting the measure on a ballot. Stevens says the City Attorney's Office proposed the straw ballot as a compromise.

Mayor Matti Bower was the only dissenting vote on July 19 as the commission passed the straw-ballot initiative.

 
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2 comments
lfordbanister
lfordbanister

Wow! I have never seen an article actually posted that was so far removed form the truth. Pure fantasy! Where to start even?!

1) There is no group called Sensible Florida that had anything to do with running the    decriminalization initiative in 2010 and there never has been. A statewide PAC, the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) was responsible for the initiative. Maybe someone got confused bc the web address was www.sensibleflorida.org. 

2) While a lot of signatures were gathered, probably enough to make the ballot, they were never turned in. After the petitions were literally stacked on the table at a city commission meeting in the summer of 2011, the single corporate sponsor who invited me to Miami Beach to run this initiative had a very hard time providing the funding promised. For reasons that are totally incomprehensible, they refused to pay the filing fee of about $1K to turn them in and have them processed. I reached out to many people in Florida and elsewhere, all of the people who showed up when the initiative was announced and when it was should have ended in July of 2011 but had never gathered a signature or given a dollar. No responses.

3) There is no lawsuit against the city of Miami Beach. There is nothing that could be sued on or any group even that could maintain a lawsuit. The CSMP disbanded in early 2012. The petitions were never turned in. So how could the city refuse to put it on a ballot? 

There is a point at which spin becomes irresponsibly misinforming the public. You call this journalism?! rofl 

wow

 
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