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Florida Supreme Court Approves Language of Medical Marijuana Ballot

In a narrow 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court has approved the language of the medical marijuana ballot opposed by Attorney General Pam Bondi. While Bondi and his supporters argued the language of the measure was overbroad and confusing, the Florida Supreme Court ruled, “In the context of the entire amendment, it is reasonable to construe the amendment as being limited.”

While the ballot summary mentions the measure “allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases,” a later amendment made to the language of the ballot, because Bondi blocked the earlier one, defines “debilitating diseases” as specific nine diseases like cancer and AIDS “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Ricky Polston wrote, “Foisting this seriously deceptive ballot summary on the voters does a severe disservice to the people and to their constitution.”

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However the court majority observed the language of the ballot, “has a logical and natural oneness of purpose – namely, whether Floridians want a provision in the state constitution authorizing the medical use of marijuana as determined by a licensed physician.”

Bondi took the stance that the language of the amendment made medical marijuana use practically limitless, and following the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court on the matter, he issued a statement saying, “Today’s ruling leaves the issue of medical marijuana in the hands of Florida’s voters. I encourage every Floridian to read the full amendment in order to understand the impact it could have on Floridians.”

A Quinnipiac University poll in November, 2013 found overwhelming support in favor of medical marijuana legalization. According to the poll, 82 percent of voters wanted their doctors to be able to prescribe marijuana when and where required.

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