After falling just short in 2014, backers of a proposed amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida have announced they've met the criteria to put the issue back on the ballot in 2016.
Though there are multiple ways to get an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, a citizen's initiative, such as the medical marijuana effort, must collect a number of signatures equal to 8 percent of the total number of people who voted in the state during the last presidential election. Those signatures must also be collected from across the state.
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, the man backing the ballot initiative, emailed supporters last night that 692,981 valid signatures have been submitted to the state, about 10,000 more than required. Around 1 million signatures had been collected, but some were not verified.
"This effort cost millions of dollars — but it needed to happen... Medical marijuana is coming to Florida," Morgan said in his email.
In order to pass, 60 percent of voters must vote yes on the amendment.
In 2014, the effort to bring medical marijuana to Florida appeared to be sailing through, with numerous polls showing momentous support. Opposition to the amendment was poorly funded until notoriously conservative Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson dropped $5 million in an effort to fight it.
Adelson ultimately succeeded. The amendment received only 57.62 percent support at the polls, with opponents arguing that the amendment was too broad.
The new language, however, is a bit stricter, clarifying the issue of parental consent and tightening the list of conditions for which a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana.
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Putting the amendment on the ballot during a presidential election may also help its chances of success. Younger, Democratic voters tend to come out during presidential elections in greater numbers than midterm elections.
Twenty-three states have so far legalized medical marijuana.
Currently, Florida has a law allowing certain patients access to a form of nonpotent marijuana oil that is low in euphoria-inducing THC. However, the process of implementing a system to get marijuana to patients has been delayed.