FLORIDA: Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz have joined the debate over medical marijuana. But they might be too late.
The legislative leaders recently joined Attorney General Pam Bondi in challenging the ballot language of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Floridians to use marijuana for medical reasons.
Bondi has asked the Florida Supreme Court to block the proposal, which was put forward by a citizens group, from being put on the November 2014 statewide ballot.
Unfortunately, Weatherford and Gaetz didn’t show as much interest in the medical marijuana issue when it came up in the Legislature last session. Bills introduced in the House and Senate that would have permitted the medical use of marijuana under strict conditions died in committees.
The Legislature’s neglect prevented a reasoned debate and ignored the opportunity to carefully craft a law that would allow the use of marijuana as a medical necessity, provide police and prosecutors with clear guidance and enact protections against abuse.
Instead, Weatherford and Gaetz — like Florida legislative leaders have many times in the past — ceded the debate of a difficult social and political issue to the public realm.
Consequently, a citizens group led by high-profile Orlando attorney John Morgan has been engaged in gathering the nearly 700,000 petition signatures needed to place a proposed medical-marijuana amendment on the Florida ballot.