Medical Marijuana and Election Day

Chances are, unless you’ve been hibernating for the last six months, you’ve heard of the major issues surrounding today’s elections. Not only is today a big day because of the U.S. Senate and House seats up for grabs; it is also of particular importance to us here in Florida.
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Along with going to the polls to decide between Fmr. Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott (and a few others), Floridians will finally have the opportunity to vote on Amendment No. 2, which, if passed, would make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes in the State of Florida.

As our Palm Beach and Broward County attorneys know, marijuana has many benefits for people with all sorts of diseases and illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

It’s important to note that Florida would not be the first state to begin to ease the restrictive, harsh laws regarding marijuana use — not by a long shot. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have already enacted legislation allowing for doctors to legally prescribe medical marijuana to patients they feel would benefit from the treatment.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers feel that it’s crucial that you not go into the voting booth with a lack of understanding about what Amendment No. 2, the ballot initiative regarding medical marijuana, really calls for. Unlike what a coupe of other states in the nation have done, Amendment No. 2, if passed, would not allow for legalization of marijuana for recreational use, so scare tactics that critics use, i.e. images of everybody walking around smoking marijuana at their leisure, are false. Amendment No. 2 specifically deals with the issue of medical marijuana — in other words, a doctor’s ability to prescribe marijuana to appropriate patients and for such patients to be able to lawfully use marijuana pursuant to the prescription they’re given.

With all of medical marijuana’s scientifically-proven benefits in treating even the most incurable of ailments, why is there still opposition to legislation that would allow for (purely) medicinal use of marijuana (when prescribed such by a licensed doctor)? The answer is simple: politics.

Just as Amendment No. 2 will appear on a ballot along with the names of politicians who have sparred over issues and who have trampled over one another to secure your vote, the issue of medicinal marijuana cannot be separated from politics. Because it impacts policies including but not limited to healthcare, taxation and criminal justice, for example, politicians have made their voices clear concerning how the feel about making medicinal marijuana a reality in the Sunshine State.

The truth is, while politicians continue to bicker over a substance that could be enriching and enabling the lives of thousands and thousands of Floridians, patients continue to go untreated. Not only are they prohibited from taking a medical substance that might improve their symptoms drastically; if they do take such a substance in the hopes of alleviating severe pain or other symptoms, they can be, and frequently are, arrested and treated like criminals.

Today, Floridians have a choice. It’s important that you go out and vote and make your voice heard; Tallahassee will be listening.

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