By now, you’ve probably heard that Florida’s Amendment 2 failed to reach the majority vote of 60 percent it needed, falling just two percent short of the mark. Despite polls showing nearly 90 percent of the state favoring the legalization of medical marijuana earlier this summer, slowly but surely, support for the amendment dwindled over recent months.
Florida, who would have lead the way in changing the South’s opinions about the potential benefits medical marijuana can provide to countless patients in need, failed to join the 23 other states with similar laws already on the books. This makes Florida the largest state who has failed to pass an amendment on medical marijuana by popular vote.
This change, would have built upon the “Charlotte’s Web” bill Gov. Rick Scott signed that legalized the use of a low-THC, strain of marijuana to treat a small amount of conditions such as epilepsy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
What this blow to medical marijuana really boils down to in Florida is that the issue, unfortunately, became yet another typical United States battle of one versus the other, this or that, us versus them — I’m talking about dysfunctional partisanship in the state’s government. This is essentially the failure of our representatives to rise above their respective party’s interests and to accept compromises.
Like countless other issues in the U.S., Amendment 2, which should have been an independent issue, became wrapped up in the political battle between Democrats and Republicans. When you look at the supporters for or against Amendment 2, most of them had ties to one, specific political party.
For the “No on 2” campaign, one man, Sheldon Adelson, spent more money on this election than anyone has ever spent on an election here in the U.S., about $5 million and 85 percent of the funding against the amendment. What is perhaps even more shocking is that a man who doesn’t even live in this state can spend that amount of money to influence a decision that should be decided by our own citizens, though that’s an entirely different issue.
Adelson, who made his wealth as a Las Vegas business tycoon, also happens to own a medical research organization called Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation. Oddly enough, the organization produced a study as recently as 2013, which showed that medical marijuana helped patients with multiple sclerosis.
For the “Yes on 2” campaign, the primary group was United for Care, who of course, has ties to the Democratic party. The man behind this particular campaign was Orlando lawyer, John Morgan, who put up nearly $4 million to fund it. Morgan’s ties to this campaign are even more obvious, as Charlie Crist happens to work at the law firm.
Many people are somewhat confused as to why 58 percent (roughly a million more voters for than against) in favor of Amendment 2 wasn’t enough. Currently, Florida requires a “supermajority” of voters to amend the state’s constitution, a change made back in 2006, stating 60 percent majority is needed.
In other states, marijuana reform continues to sweep the nation and its territories, as voters in Guam legalized the plant for medicinal use, while Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. all legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Supporters of marijuana reform should not be discouraged. This is by no means a defeat for the plant’s support. In fact, this shows that a majority of Floridians are ready to see this change happen, and this was only the midterm election. In most other states, including Oregon, Alaska and California, it took several tries to ultimately alter the laws.
Not if, but when we see this issue come up again, and likely in the next election, just remember to get off your lazy asses and vote. This midterm election saw through Amendment 1, helping to give billions of dollars to conservation efforts across the state, and that was all thanks to people being educated about an issue, and actually voting on it instead of hoping it would magically happen.
All we can do now is consult the magic conch …
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