With the introduction of the new weekly column, Saturday State Spotlight, our first state that we are going to take a look at is Florida.
Brief History of Florida
Let’s begin by taking a brief look at the history of the State of Florida, up to the present time.
People first reached Florida at least 12,000 years ago, with the first written records about life in Florida beginning with the arrival of the Spanish explorer and adventurer Juan Ponce de León in 1513.
Florida became the twenty-seventh state in the United States on March 3, 1845.
During the Civil War, Florida was not ravaged as several other southern states were. Indeed, no decisive battles were fought on Florida soil. While Union forces occupied many coastal towns and forts, the interior of the state remained in Confederate hands.
During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, large-scale commercial agriculture in Florida, especially cattle-raising, grew in importance.
Florida’s economic bubble burst in 1926, when money and credit ran out, and banks and investors abruptly stopped trusting the “paper” millionaires.
World War II spurred economic development in Florida. Because of its year-round mild climate, the state became a major training center for soldiers, sailors, and aviators of the United States and its allies.
In the second half of the twentieth century, primarily the 1980’s, Florida became known for it’s involvement in the Cocaine Trade, which resulted in a lot of gang violence, and a lot of drug money being funneled into South Florida, specifically the Miami area.
Florida is currently the top destination for senior citizens and retirees.
History of Marijuana in Florida
Florida Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions, is an initiative that appeared on the November 4, 2014, ballot in the state of Florida as a citizen initiated state constitutional amendment.
It was officially certified by the state’s secretary of state to appear on the 2014 November ballot and numbered Amendment 2, not to be confused with the 2008 ban on same-sex marriage of the same name. If it had been enacted, the measure would have allowed for the cultivation, purchase, possession and use of medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions when recommended by a licensed physician. The amendment was introduced by People United for Medical Marijuana on March 26, 2009. Supporters are widespread and include some notable public figures, the Florida Cannabis Action Network and John Morgan, head of the Morgan and Morgan law firm. Highly respected members of society have acknowledged the viable need for this legislation even admitting publicly to assisting loved ones to obtain medical marijuana including last sessions Florida State Senate President, Jon Gaetz. To date Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have already passed legislation allowing doctors to recommend the medicinal use of marijuana thereby legalizing a patients possession and use. Opponents include Sheldon Adelson, a Nevada Billionaire who donated $2.5 million to the Drug Free Florida Committee, which is a political committee that tried to defeat the measure.
Current Medical Marijuana Initiative
The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, is an initiated constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot on November 8, 2016. The measure would legalize medical marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.
You can read the proposed Florida Amendment 2 for the 2016 election.
United for Care successfully placed a similar initiative on the November 4, 2014, ballot in Florida. However, the measure was defeated on Election Day. Although a 57.62 percent majority voted in favor of the amendment, Florida’s state constitution requires a 60 percent super majority vote for an amendment to pass. Thus, the measure failed by 2.38 percent.
Following Amendment 2’s defeat, John Morgan, the central proponent of and largest donor to the narrowly defeated measure, started planning a re-run for 2016. United for Care, which supported the narrowly defeated Amendment 2 of 2014, is supporting the 2016 medical marijuana initiative. The group’s director, Ben Pollara, said the new initiative contains explicit language clarifying areas that opponents of Amendment 2 were concerned about. For example, the new initiative makes clear that minors cannot acquire medical marijuana without parental consent.
Supporters needed to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by February 1, 2016, to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot. The secretary of state website verified 709,359 signatures, certified the measure for the ballot and gave the measure a ballot number on February 1, 2016.
For a referred amendment to win in Florida, it must win a super majority vote of 60 percent of those voting on the question, according to Section 5 of Article XI. This change was made via Amendment 3 in 2006.
As the election draws near, we will all be looking towards Florida, as this ballot proposal could help the quality of life for thousands of citizens with debilitating diseases, and prevent being locked up under draconian marijuana laws.
Good Luck Florida Voters.