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2016 General Election: Amendment 2

If you feel like you’ve seen this one before, you’re high. Just kidding, it’s because you probably have. A version of this amendment was on the ballot in 2014 and it failed by a pretty slim margin. It needed 60 percent to pass, and it got 58 percent. It’s been reworked and refined and now it’s back.

Here’s what you’ll see on your ballot:

NO. 2 CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ARTICLE X, SECTION 29

Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana. Increased costs from this amendment to state and local governments cannot be determined. There will be additional regulatory costs and enforcement activities associated with the production, sale, use and possession of medical marijuana. Fees may offset some of the regulatory costs. Sales tax will likely apply to most purchases, resulting in a substantial increase in state and local government revenues that cannot be determined precisely. The impact on property tax revenues cannot be determined.

Here’s what that actually means:

People who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical conditions (like cancer, epilepsy, and glaucoma. The full list is below.) can buy and use full-strength medical marijuana. They must have a valid identification card and they must be recommended the medical marijuana by a physician. It’s probs going to cost the Department of Health money to regulate this.

If you vote

Yes: Licensed physicians can recommend medical marijuana to patients with specific diseases or conditions.

No: The state’s current policies on medical marijuana persist.

How is this different from the 2014 ballot item?

    United for Care, the advocacy group behind the measure, made changes in three areas:

  • Specified which diseases and conditions would qualify. They are: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Added a parental consent requirement for minors who are prescribed medical marijuana.
  • Clarified the doctor’s legal responsibility. Doctors would still be held to the same medical malpractice standards as anything else. If they recommended marijuana to anyone not suffering from the diseases and conditions for which it is approved, that’s malpractice and subject to punishment.

There are two main points of opposition:

  • Anti-drug use organizations argue that this opens the door to widespread marijuana use
  • Others say they agree with the policy but that it shouldn’t be written into the state constitution because it’s harder to change if it needs to be once it’s put into the constitution. They’d rather it be decided at the Legislature.

But didn’t Florida just approve five medical marijuana nurseries? Why did they do that if medical marijuana isn’t legal?

In 2014, the Florida legislature passed a bill that allowed a non-euphoric, low-THC form of marijuana for people with epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms, or cancer. This year, it was expanded to allow all terminally ill patients to access all forms of medical marijuana.

[Editor’s note: Doctors can recommend, not prescribe, medical marijuana. This post has been corrected to reflect this change.]