On Thursday, Dec 17 seven justices of the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor for placing a constitutional measure legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. The ruling declared that the petition and summary of the plea appease the legal requirements of the Florida Constitution.
“The final step to get this on the ballot is to collect enough petitions and have a total of 683,149 validated by the various county Supervisors of Elections,” said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for United for Care in a press release. “We only have a few weeks to get to that number. We’re getting there, but it is going to be close.”
The United For Care campaign is run by the People United for Medical Marijuana, an organization dedicated to legalizing the medical usage of marijuana for those with debilitating illnesses.
The approval of the petition is a step toward getting placed on the ballot during the next voting period in 2016. According to the United For Care website, studies show that many patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/ AIDS, epilepsy and other illnesses find relief in symptoms after utilizing marijuana.
“Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions … and can be mitigated by marijuana,” according to the Institute of Medicine in Marijuana and Medicine.
As of right now, 22 states and Washington D.C. provide legal access to marijuana under state law to severely ill patients whose physicians recommend the medical use of the drug. However, marijuana isn’t the only drug available for people with illnesses; cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine can be legally administered to patients.
In 2014, United For Care managed to get an amendment proposal on the ballot, but it failed to gain the required 60 percent of the vote, resulting in only 58 percent. During the summer before the 2014 election, medical marijuana had polled over 80 percent in support. But, the group Drug Free Florida held an opposition campaign with large contributions being made from wealthy donors such as billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson who donated $2.5 million in May 2015.
Several counties across Florida have passed measures decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, with fees being written to those found with the substance instead of immediate arrest, including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Three states have legalized recreational use: Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
“The unanimous decision by the Florida Supreme Court to approve the new medical marijuana constitutional amendment is a huge victory for hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering Floridians,” Pollara said to the Sun Sentinel in December.