Florida Marijuana Initiative Finds Foe in Bondi

Florida’s attorney general Pam Bondi is pleading with the state supreme court to block a measure that would legalize medicinal marijuana, should it be allowed on the state ballot next year.
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Marijuana advocates have begun circulating a petition that requires 700,000 voter signatures by Feb. 1 in order to ensure a spot. The drive, entitled People United for Medical Marijuana, is poised to succeed where previous efforts have failed. Earlier this year, state lawmakers turned down the opportunity to vote on a statutory change to the law that would allow physicians to prescribe the drug to certain patients under tightly-controlled conditions.

As of today, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that any kind of possession or distribution of the drug is illegal. According to Florida Statute 893.13, the sale, manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to do any of these with a Schedule I narcotic (as marijuana is) is a second-degree felony. As such, it’s punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The fact that the drug has gained legal status for medicinal purposes in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, as well as legal status for recreational purpose in two states thus far, has no bearing here in Florida. The drug remains illegal per state and federal law. However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal prosecutors would decline action against those who cultivate, distribute or use the drug, so long as they are doing so in accordance with state laws that are strictly defined and thoroughly enforced.

Bondi is required by law to request a review of all proposed ballot measures by the Florida Supreme Court. In doing so for the medical marijuana initiative, she told the court she believed the action to be “deceptive.” She said that while proponents of the measure have indicated the medicinal use of the drug would be limited and narrowly-defined for those with serious and debilitating diseases, she said the amendment would in fact allow “limitless” uses. She said that the only thing that would matter in these cases would be the opinion of the doctor.

The state, she said, would be “powerless” to stop it.

The measure would not authorize recreational use, growth, possession or sale of the drug.

A representative for the advocacy group behind the measure called the Republican Bondi out-of-touch, adding that her efforts to deny voters the opportunity to even consider it are appalling. A poll recently commissioned by the group revealed 70 percent of Floridians would support the legalization of marijuana as medicine. In order to pass as a constitutional amendment, the measure would require at least 60 percent of voter support.

Court paperwork reveals that so far, petitioners have gathered approximately 95,500 valid signatures. That means they have four months to get the remaining 605,000.

If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
Bondi urges Fla. Supreme Court to deny pot proposal, Oct. 25, 2013, By Richard Dymond, The Bradenton Herald
More Blog Entries:
South Florida Drug Busts Enrich Local Police, Oct. 15, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Blog

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