Democratic Rep. Pushes for Amendment to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Florida

With a recent poll showing 57 percent of Floridians favoring legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, state Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has introduced a resolution to put an amendment on the 2012 ballot that would do just that. Clemens claims that the move could bring in $5 to $12 million a year in tax revenue for Florida, and he ultimately has an eye towards complete decriminalization of marijuana. Too bad the bill probably won't go anywhere.

Clemen's resolution would put a medical marijuana measure on the ballot as a constitutional amendment in 2012. Sixty percent of voters would have to approve it to become law.

Marijuana would only be legal if prescribed to patients with debilitating conditions, though critics point to Florida's out-of-control pill mill problem in which powerful pain pills are freely prescribed by shady doctors.

Clemens retorts that while pain pill abuse kills up to six people a day in Florida, medical marijuana has never killed anyone. He also says that many recent laws passed to curb pill mills would also make sure that medical marijuana was not abused.

"We have a lot of people suffering here in the state of Florida, and I don't think we need to be telling them that prescription narcotics are the way to go when we have other more natural avenues for them," Clemens said.

The bill would not make insurance companies pay for the marijuana, and it could only be smoked in private.

Though a majority of Floridians seem open to the idea, it's unlikely that Clemen's resolution will make its way through the Republican-controlled legislator.

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