2016 Election Shaping Up as Watershed Moment for Movement to End Marijuana Prohibition
Florida voters have approved the state’s medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 2. This victory makes Florida, with its huge population and bellwether status in American politics, the first state in the South to adopt a medical marijuana law.
The new law instructs the Department of Health to register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes, and issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Individuals with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions as determined by a physician will be able to purchase and use medical marijuana.
“Better late than never,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Most states outside the South already have legal medical marijuana, but the overwhelming victory today in Florida is likely to accelerate the momentum for reform throughout the region.”
Florida requires 60% of the vote to pass, and a similar initiative in 2014 was defeated despite winning 57.6% of the vote. Casino owner Sheldon Adelson and other wealthy donors spent millions to stop Amendment 2, as they did in 2014.
“The victory this time around proves that you can’t keep a good cause down,” added Nadelmann. “In fact, I’d wager that more than half of all Floridians now support legalizing marijuana for all adults. It’s just a matter of time before that’s ripe for a new ballot initiative.”
The Drug Policy Alliance and its lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, supported this initiative with assistance on the drafting, as well as financial support for the campaign.
DPA will hold a teleconference tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:30pm ET to discuss the national implications of today’s votes. California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are voting on marijuana legalization, while Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana are voting on medical marijuana.