The official ballot text reads as follows:
On June 16, 2014, Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed Senate Bill 1030, also known as the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014.” The legislation legalized low-tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis, such as the strain Charlotte’s Web, for medical patients suffering from cancer or “a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures,” such as epilepsy, “or severe and persistent muscle spasms.” The law requires physician approval and for the potential user’s physician to determine that “no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that patient.” SB 1030 also authorized medical centers to conduct research on low-tetrahydrocannabinol (low-THC) cannabis. The measure will become effective on January 1, 2015. Gov. Scott said, “As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer. I am proud to stand today with families who deserve the ability to provide their children with the best treatment available”
Gov. Scott also signed Senate Bill 1700. The law exempts the identification of patients and physicians from public records related to the medical use of low-tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis. The bill does allow, however, access to such information by law enforcement agencies, low-THC marijuana dispensing organizations, physicians, relevant health care regulatory boards and researchers under certain circumstances. SB 1700 was designed to be in effect until October 2, 2019.
Florida is the 22nd state to enact legislation legalizing some level of access to medical cannabis.
Effects on gubernatorial election
Multiple media outlets have predicted that the measure will aid Florida Democrats, especially in the state’s gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, since the initiative may bring out young people, who tend to vote more Democratic. Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, said, “I wish that it didn’t take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters to go and vote because there’s far too much at stake for them and their children. But listen, we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
Charlie Crist (D), who’s running for governor in 2014, stated, “[Amendment 2] might get more younger voters to turn out. It may well increase turnout because if you’re educating people about this being on the ballot, who otherwise might not have known it, then you’re ginning it up.” David Johnson, a Republican campaign planner, said he didn’t think young people would turn out in large numbers over a single issue.
John Morgan said People United for Medical Marijuana has helped people register to vote who “never registered before.” He thinks “turnout is going to be 2, 3, maybe even 4 points higher than we might have seen, but for this.”
United for Care, also known as People United for Medical Marijuana, is leading the campaign in support of the measure.
People United for Medical Marijuana listed a number of reasons to support the measure on their website:
Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care, offered counter arguments to what he considered the opposition’s four main arguments:
People United for Medical Marijuana, the initiative’s sponsoring organization, issued a rebuttal to an opposing campaign video put out by Drug Free Florida:
Other arguments in support of the measure include:
As of October 29, 2014, People United for Medical Marijuana has received $7,812,024 in contributions.
The following are donors who contributed more than $45,000 to People United for Medical Marijuana:
All campaign advertisements for campaigns in favor of the measure can be found here.
Drug Free Florida is leading the campaign in opposition to the initiative. The organization hired Republican consultant Tre’ Evers. He has worked on campaigns for Lamar Alexander, Bill McCollum and former US Senator Mel Martinez. Evers also served in the Department of Transportation under former president George W. Bush.
The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) and Save Our Society From Drugs, along with other anti-marijuana organizations, launched Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot (DLFGP). The organization plans on campaigning against medical marijuana, except the Charlotte’s Web strain, and taking contributions, but will not be campaigning against Amendment 2 specifically due to the FSA’s tax status. DLFGP has no intentions of initiating a political action committee and will therefore be running an “educational campaign.”
Opponents of Amendment 2 have called the amendment a “de facto legalization” of marijuana.
Drug Free Florida, the committee opposing Amendment 2, criticized the measure for containing four loopholes. They argued:
US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-23), chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, stated her opposition to Amendment 2:
Other arguments against the initiative include:
The following donors contributed $5,000 or more to Drug Free Florida Committee:
All campaign advertisements for campaigns in opposition to the measure can be found here.
Media editorial positions
November 2013 – July 2014
August 2014 – October 2014
Reports and analyses
Bachhuber et al.
A study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that states with medical marijuana laws saw a reduction in average opioid analgesic overdose deaths between 1999 and 2010.
The number of patients with non-cancer pain who receive prescriptions for opioids has nearly doubled since 2000. Rates of opioid use disorders and overdose deaths have risen drastically over the same time period. About 60 percent of all opioid analgesic overdose deaths occur among patients who have legitimate prescriptions from a single medical provider. While policies such as prescription drug monitoring programs have been suggested to reduce opioid use issues, less attention has been given to how alternative non-opioid treatments, including medical cannabis, may affect opioid abuse and overdose.
As of July 2014, 23 states have enacted laws permitting medical cannabis programs. These laws are associated with increased cannabis use among adults. The researchers proposed that increased access to medical cannabis could have two different effects on opioid use and abuse:
The study illustrated a correlation between access to medical cannabis and decreased opioid overdose deaths. States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower annual rate of opioid overdose deaths than states that hadn’t legalized medical cannabis. The lower rate continued decreasing with time. On average, a state with legal medical cannabis saw a 33.3 percent reduction after six years.
Although the researchers found a correlation between “a lower mean annual rate of opioid analgesic mortality in states with medical cannabis laws, a direct causal link cannot be established.”
The study was conducted by Marcus A. Bachhuber, MD; Brendan Saloner, PhD; Chinazo O. Cunningham, MD, MS; and Colleen L. Barry, PhD.
Path to the ballot
Supporters needed to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures, by February 1, 2014, in order to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot. People United for Medical Marijuana announced that the organization collected more than 1.1 million signatures on January 15, 2014. The Division of Elections recorded 786,371 valid signatures.
In Florida, all initiative ballot titles and summaries must be approved by the Florida Supreme Court prior to certification. The court either validates or invalidates the measure’s language. The Florida Supreme Court ruled on January 27, 2014, in a 4-3 decision, that the measure’s text is valid, accurate and constitutional.
On December 5, 2013, the high court held a hearing on the measure’s language. The initiative faced opposition from Attorney General Pam Bondi (R). She argued, “The proposal [language] hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless ‘other conditions’ specified by any physician. With no ‘condition’ off limits, physicians could authorize marijuana for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age. But rather than tell voters of this extraordinary scope, the summary uses language to prey on voters’ understandable sympathies for Florida’s most vulnerable patients — those suffering ‘debilitating diseases.” PolitiFact Florida rated her statement as “mostly true.” Solicitor General Allen Winsor went as far as saying that “other conditions” may include people who “don’t even have to have a disease.” The Florida Legislature also filed an opinion against the initiative.
Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James Perry concluded that the amendment would be “accurately represented on the ballot.” Their affirmative ruling stated, “Voters are given fair notice as to the chief purpose and scope of the proposed amendment, which is to allow a restricted use of marijuana for certain ― debilitating medical conditions. We conclude that the voters will not be affirmatively misled regarding the purpose of the proposed amendment because the ballot title and summary accurately convey the limited use of marijuana, as determined by a licensed Florida physician.”
Chief Justice Ricky Polston and Justices Jorge Labarga and Charles Canady all dissented against the amendment. All three dissenting judges were appointed by Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), who supports the measure. Polston’s arguments were summarized in the ruling as: “(1) the summary “promises a narrow and limited marijuana program—the precise opposite of what the [a]mendment would deliver”; (2) the summary fails to disclose that physicians who authorize patients’ use of medical marijuana consistent with the amendment allegedly will receive broad tort and disciplinary immunity; and (3) the summary wrongly suggests that the amendment “allows” activities that are plainly illegal under federal law.”
The following medical marijuana legalization measures were proposed in 2014:
Two states and the District of Columbia will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana in November 2014:
The following recreational marijuana legalization measures were proposed for 2016: