Supreme Court Gets Pot Amendment For Review

Oct 5, 2015

A revamped proposal that would legalize marijuana for patients with certain medical conditions is in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court, which will decide if the ballot initiative meets the criteria to go before voters next year.

Attorney General Pam Bondi submitted the "Use of Medical Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions" ballot initiative to the court on Friday, after supporters gathered the 68,314 signatures necessary to trigger the high court's scrutiny.

The People United for Medical Marijuana effort, backed by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan and more commonly known as "United for Care," comes after supporters narrowly failed in 2014 to pass a similar initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana. The 2014 proposal received 58 percent approval from voters, just shy of the 60 percent required for changes to the Florida Constitution.

If the court approves the new initiative, the committee supporting medical marijuana must still gather a total of 683,149 signatures to get on next year's ballot. According to the Florida Division of Elections website, the group had submitted 239,486 as of Friday.

Morgan has dumped more than $5 million of his and his law firm's money into the effort over the past three years.

Backers of the proposal changed its name as well as some of the language to address concerns expressed by Supreme Court justices and used by opponents, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, to dissuade voters from endorsing the initiative in 2014. The revised measure clarifies that doctors cannot order medical marijuana for children without their parents' approval.

"What this will do is to clarify things that will make it really impossible to misinterpret," Jon Mills, a constitutional law professor and former House speaker who drafted the amendment and the revision, told The News Service of Florida in January.