High Court Hears Medical-Marijuana Case
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High Court Hears Medical-Marijuana Case
Posted by CN Staff on December 04, 2013 at 14:36:45 PT
By Marc Caputo
Source: Miami Herald
Florida -- Tallahassee’s political establishment has repeatedly blocked legislative votes on medical marijuana and will ask the Florida Supreme Court Thursday to follow suit and keep the issue away from state voters in 2014.Led by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, opponents have raised a host of objections to the proposed state constitutional amendment, which they say could lead to de facto “unfettered” marijuana legalization under the guise of compassionate medicine. “The proposal hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states,” says Bondi’s initial court brief.
The amendment backers, People United for Medical Marijuana, say opponents are twisting the truth and preventing the sick from legally obtaining help.“Any statement that the initiative would allow unfettered use of medical marijuana would itself be misleading to voters,” wrote People United’s lawyer, John Mills.Mills accused Bondi and opponents of dressing up inaccurate campaign-trail talking points as technical legal arguments to keep Florida from being the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana for medical and other reasons.For the past three years, medical marijuana bills have died in the Florida Legislature, where leaders wouldn’t even schedule a vote.People United, a political committee, says it’s acting because the Legislature failed to. People United formed as a nonpartisan group, but partisan lines are forming behind the scenes.The amendment’s opponents are mostly Republicans who back incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, an opponent. Its backers are Democrats who support Charlie Crist, a proponent of the amendment.One early polling analysis suggested that medical marijuana — which enjoys bipartisan support and garnered 82 percent approval in a recent poll — could affect the 2014 governor’s race, but pollsters from both parties suggest its impact would be minimal.Even if the Supreme Court allows the proposal to proceed to the November ballot, amendment sponsors will still need to gather 683,149 voter-signatures by Feb. 1. People United says it has about 500,000 signed petitions, fewer than half of which have been verified.To pass, an amendment needs 60 percent voter support, a significant challenge.During oral arguments Thursday, the state Supreme Court justices will focus on whether the proposed amendment limits itself to one subject, is clear and whether its ballot title or 75-word ballot summary are misleading.The ballot summary’s language has drawn the most criticism. It says medical marijuana would be reserved for those who suffer from “debilitating diseases.”But the language is open to wide interpretation, says Bondi’s court briefs, which are echoed by filings from state House and Senate leaders, an anti-drug group and powerful lobbies that include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Medical Association and the associations representing police chiefs and sheriffs.“The summary uses language to prey on voters’ understandable sympathies for Florida’s most vulnerable patients — those suffering ‘debilitating diseases,’” one filing says. “If voters are asked to open Florida to expansive marijuana use, they deserve to know it.”People United’s filings say the opponents are misrepresenting the plain language and intent of the amendment, which list “a series of specific conditions that must be met for a patient to receive medical marijuana.”The amendment text says that a physician must first conduct a physical examination of patients, assess their medical history and then use his or her “professional opinion” to then decide if “a patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition.”The physician is also supposed to determine that marijuana use would be more beneficial then harmful, the period of time it should be used and then write and sign a prescription-like certification.Opponents point out that the ballot summary says medical marijuana is reserved for “debilitating diseases” while the actual text only talks about “debilitating medical conditions.” So voters could be confused. People United rejects the argument.From cancer to AIDS to multiple sclerosis, nine “debilitating” conditions are specifically listed in the amendment text.But the text also says cannabis could be certified for “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”What are these “other conditions” in the amendment?People United says in court filings that the amendment “leaves open the use of medical marijuana for other conditions as the practice of medicine evolves,” but the unspecified maladies are not “trivial and minor conditions,” as opponents have claimed.The group also cites a legal doctrine, “ejusdem generis,” that notes “when a general phrase follows a list of specifics, the general phrase will be interpreted to include only items of the same type as those listed.”Opponents say there needs to be more clarity. And they complain the ballot title says “certain” ailments will be covered, but the amendment doesn’t guarantee certainty.“There is no qualifier in the catch-all phrase that requires that such ‘other conditions’ be similar in nature or severity to the preceding list of nine specific conditions,” the opponents, led by the Florida Chamber, wrote in a filing.“A voter who agrees with the medical use of marijuana for the nine listed conditions might not want to authorize its use for less serious conditions or diseases.”The opponents say that, by combining a potentially desirable outcome with a potentially undesirable one, the amendment is impermissibly “logrolling” the issues together.Also, opponents say, the proposal logrolls, misleads voters or violates constitutional protections or issues by:• Giving physicians, patients and some caregivers immunity from criminal and civil actions in some cases. People United says it’s needed to prevent harassment.• Allowing all types of physicians, including podiatrists and chiropractors, to recommend marijuana. People United says the Legislature can limit the scope to just medical doctors.• Granting legal standing for any citizen to sue the government if it doesn’t comply with the amendment. People United says that’s not a single-subject violation and it doesn’t substantially affect the government’s operations.• Directing the Department of Health to enforce medical-marijuana rules, which should be the purview of the Legislature. People United says the law would be a “minimal addition” to the department’s current duties.• Creating a new public-records exemption for patients’ identities. People United says this, too, is a minimal issue and is within the amendment’s scope.• Misleading people into believing the amendment would make medical marijuana illegal under federal law. People United says the court has to assume voters aren’t that ignorant. Source: Miami Herald (FL)Author:  Marc CaputoPublished: December 4, 2013Copyright: 2013 The Miami HeraldContact: heralded herald.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 07, 2013 at 19:55:43 PT
Florida is an important state. We need southern states. I hope it happens.
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Comment #12 posted by Canis420 on December 07, 2013 at 18:25:11 PT:
Now the wait
We will be waiting for the decision but we will not wait on gathering signatures for the petition. From what we are told we are very close to hitting the number needed. Maybe Florida will be another brick in the wall.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on December 07, 2013 at 15:42:53 PT
John Tyler
I feel exactly like you do. I could never be a Republican. They are the opposite of how I look at life.
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Comment #10 posted by John Tyler on December 07, 2013 at 08:56:47 PT
Please excuse my harshness, but Republican policies are essentialy elitist, sexist, and racist. They don't want to hear any new ideas. They enjoy calling themselves conservatives, but they only want to conserve their own power and wealth. 
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Comment #9 posted by The GCW on December 06, 2013 at 15:36:08 PT
Now the wait.
Florida Supreme Court justices question marijuana ballot language"The seven-member panel has until April 1 to make a decision."
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 06, 2013 at 06:03:42 PT
John Tyler
I agree. I think the Republicans will soon be a thing of the past. They just won't think with any progressive thoughts. 
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on December 05, 2013 at 22:30:07 PT
I like that comment 6
“”The Dems and Reps have got to either adapt or die; either way, they will no longer be calling the shots, anymore.””I like that summarization…right to the point…and really-really accurate…
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on December 05, 2013 at 21:28:37 PT:
The arrogance of the doomed
"One early polling analysis suggested that medical marijuana — which enjoys bipartisan support and garnered 82 percent approval in a recent poll — could affect the 2014 governor’s race, but pollsters from both parties suggest its impact would be minimal." (Emphasis mine -k.)They still won't admit it. It scares them too much. But the fact is, the two party system is essentially doomed by demographics. The Millennials are coming unto their social and political majority...and they have no shuck for the political system as it stands today. They have vastly different attitudes and perceptions than the previous generation,and some of that is borne out of personal experience with psychotropics..or observation of those having such experiences.And the general consensus can be plainly read: they do not support cannabis prohibition in the main and drug prohibition on the whole. This spells the doom of not only the 'two' party system but also of prohibition. For the next generation just now flexing its' political muscles for the first time have proven a laughable stereotype as being the lie it always was: cannabists are too lazy from being stoned to care enough to vote. CO and WA disproved that to the shock of those who've spouted their propaganda so much they began to believe it themselves.These new voters were meant to replace the generation that blindly believed the propaganda and voted for pols who supported the DrugWar by voting for spending tax revenues for 'anti-drug' programs. That's what DARE was really all about: creating the next generation of 'marks' (as in 'suckers') in a multigenerational con-game called the War on (Some)Drugs.But the kids told the prohibitionists exactly what they wanted to hear...if only to get the boorish oafs off their backs and out of their hair. But they always remembered what lies they were told about drugs...and who lied to them.And now? That generation has grown up learning the truth about the historical and economic reasons for the war on cannabis and other natural some cases in a personal sense. THEY'LL BE THE ONES PAYING THE TAXES NOW AND THEY WON'T WANT TO PAY FOR DRUG PROHIBITION PROGRAMS. AND NOW THEY CAN VOTE IN POLS OF A MORE ENLIGHTENED NATURE THAT SUITS THEIR DEMONSTRABLE DEMOGRAPHIC TENDENCIES.AND THAT MEANS NO MORE DRUG PROHIBITION.They don't care about parties, thinking the 'two' parties are out of alignment with their general beliefs, and the best litmus test is the changing responses of some pols after last year's victories in Colorado and Washington State. As predicted here long ago, once the pols felt it was safe to make heretofore private anti-prohibition sentiments public, it would be a sure sign of the long awaited 'tide' of change in public attitude towards presently illegal drugs shifting from barely-concealed racial prejudice ('The New Jim Crow') camouflaged by 'public safety' (but which 'public',you must ask) to rationality having it's effect on the tone of the discourse. The present political system is terrified that the grand little scheme of false differences between puppets of the same puppeteer is essentially over. The new voters are much more utilitarian, and will vote for anyone who can get the job done...and of course, more and more pols will be drawn from their own generational ranks. The sheer force of their economic leverage alone will cause the downfall of The Machine (taxes, remember?).So all this talk about this issue not being important is just The Machine whistling past the graveyard. This issue is that above mentioned litmus test, a very clear one, and one the present system has invested heavily in avoiding. But things are coming to the crunch, and it's put up or shut up. The Dems and Reps have got to either adapt or die; either way, they will no longer be calling the shots, anymore.
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on December 05, 2013 at 21:00:09 PT
vote out the prohibitionist
The recent polls taken around the country show that the public favors cannabis legalization. I cannot understand why so many Republicans are against it. Nobody believe the prohibitionist BS any more, not even Republicans.  So be it. Let them be unemployed former Republican office holders.  If they won't support legalization, they will be voted out.
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Comment #4 posted by Had Enough on December 05, 2013 at 19:52:51 PT
“Lady” Granny Storm Crow
Granny Storm Crow’s List is mentioned in the comment section of the article in this link from the Tampa Bay Times…formally…The Saint Petersburg Times... you Granny Storm Crow…I think ‘Lady Storm Crow’ is in order…but you probably would prefer just Storm Crow...The seeds planted years ago are staring to finally grow to make an impact on this draconian reefer madness stuff...***Pam Bondi, Calvina Fay & Co, etc…have lost their credibility and their tails are thrashing like the last of the dinosaurs…as predicted years ago on this very website...This go around looks very promising…but let’s not count any chickens yet…they are still hatching...
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on December 05, 2013 at 04:26:23 PT
Happy Anniversary
Anniversary of Prohibition's repeal looks to legalization of pot
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on December 04, 2013 at 18:34:39 PT
Colorado medical marijuana business application backlog persistsDozens of businesses continue to operate without full Colorado state licenses
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on December 04, 2013 at 16:24:22 PT
High Court?
and author name of this article is Mark Caputo?I find this all highly suspicious!
Denver is Yo Town! Jan. 1st!
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