Florida's Medical Marijuana Constitutional Amendment on the 2014 Ballot?

The United for Care campaign, run by the People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), just announced that it plans to file a petition next week with the Florida Secretary of State.  I'll post a copy of the petition as soon as it is available next week. 

Update July 12, 2013: Click here to read the 
Petition to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Florida  




Florida's Medical Marijuana Constitutional Amendment Expected to be on 2014 Ballot

The petition is the first step towards amending the Florida Constitution to provide for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. PUFMM will need approximately 700,000 signatures during a petition drive in order for the issue to be included on the general election ballot in 2014.

Wording of the Petition was Drafted by Expert Jon Mills

The legislation was drafted by Florida constitutional expert Jon Mills, a former Florida House Speaker and the past dean of the University of Florida College of Law. Jon Mills has been working on the wording of the petition for months.

Polling Shows 70% of Floridians Support a Constitutional Amendment to Legalize Marijuana

Statewide polling from earlier this year showed that seventy percent (70%) of Florida voters supported a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. Nineteen states have already enacted medical marijuana laws that vary widely. In order for the ballot initiative to become law, it must receive 60% of the vote as opposed to a simple majority.

Fierce Opposition to Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Florida

We can expect fierce opposition to any efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. The most common argument against legalization is that cannabis serves as an entry point for the use of other illegal drugs in a theory called the "gateway effect."

Floridians that want to legalize medical marijuana are in for a long and difficult battle. Then Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition recently posted an article opposing medical marijuana on its website. The article is from the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) which published a "Medical Marijuana White Paper" dated April of 2012. According to the article:
"States that have established medical marijuana programs have experienced widespread program abuse. In states that track conditions under which people qualify to use medical marijuana, on average, only 7 percent of patients have terminal or life-threatening illnesses. The vast majority are smoking marijuana for pain (a subjective term that is being used to cover medical conditions such as menstrual cramps, headaches and minor arthritis). The idea of treating pain with smoked marijuana is of particular concern for Florida, as we are experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse."
Raising Money for the Legalization of Medical Cannabis in Florida

The new directory of PUFMM, personal injury attorney John Morgan said he plans to help raise between 2 to 3 million dollars for the petition drive. To run a successful campaign, he estimates it will take more than than 20 million dollars.

Leave a Comment

If you support or oppose the idea of a constitutional amendment to the Florida Constitution to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in 2014, then leave a comment. Get involved by raising money for the petition drive or volunteering your time.

Florida's Criminal Jury Instructions Under Review

The Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases is currently reviewing the following jury instructions because of recent legislation or case law:

  • Jury instructions for Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding (Instruction 28.82, 28.84). See Dorsett v. State, No. 4D11-1530 (Fla. 4th DCA January 30, 2013)(reversible error when judge rejected requested special instruction that "[a]ctual knowledge of the accident is an essential element of this crime, for one cannot “willfully” leave an accident without awareness that an accident has occurred" and that an element of the crime was that "the defendant knew that he was involved in an accident.").
  • Jury instruction for Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Injury or Death (Jury Instruction 28.4) –  See Dorsett v. State, No. 4D11-1530 (Fla. 4th DCA January 30, 2013).
  • Jury instruction for Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Chemical or Controlled Substances (Instruction 28.14 - 28.17). See State v. Davis, No. 2D12-1409 (Fla. 2nd DCA February 27, 2013)(finding that despite the definition of vessel the State was not required to prove that the boat was subject to a license tax in order to prove the crime of BUI).
  • Jury instructions for lesser-included offenses for controlled substances (Instruction 25.2 - 25.19). See Ewing v. State, No. 2D09-6020 (Fla. 2d DCA February 25, 2011)(trial court should have instructed jury on simple possession of methamphetamine as a necessary lesser-included offense of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell even though  this lesser-included offense is not listed in the standard instructions as a necessary lesser-included offense).
  • Jury instructions for Failure to Register for Sexual Offenders and Sexual Predators (Instruction 11.14-11.14(g) and 11.15 – 11.15(k)). See Barnes v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D487e (Fla. 1st DCA February 27, 2013).
  • Jury instruction for Self-defense (Instruction 3.6(f) and (g)). See Talley v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D426a (Fla. 2nd DCA Feb. 22, 2013); Bassallo v. State, 46 So. 3d 1205 (Fla. 4th DCA November 10, 2010)(trial court abused its discretion in giving a self-defense instruction that indicated the defense applied only if the victim suffered an “injury,” when no injury occurred, which negated the theory of the defense).

A New Kind of Online Attorney Directory Called "Lawyer Legion"

Check out a new kind of online attorney directory called "Lawyer Legion." The website, www.lawyerlegion.com, just launched on March 22, 2013. All of the listings are completely free. In fact, no paid listings are allowed.

Lawyer Legion is a project of Internet LAVA, LLC, in Houston, TX. By way of disclaimer, my brother (who is 10 years younger than me) is the president of the company. I also own part of the company.

Building Better Membership Directories for Legal Organizations

Lawyer Legion was designed to work with different trusted legal organizations. Many of these legal organizations have a "Find a Lawyer" feature on their website.

Lawyer Legion created an easy way to feed over the members profiles into the organization's own "Find a Lawyer" feature on its website.

Lawyer Legion has already partnered with several legal organizations. In fact, they just launched the membership directory for the NORML Legal Committee (NLC) which is comprised of more than 600 attorneys that support the legalization of marijuana.

Lawyer Legion also just launched a redesigned website for the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association. It also features this type of membership directory that lets the public begin their search for an attorney out of the organization's pool of members.

More of these sites are coming soon. If your voluntary or specialty bar association or other type of non-profit legal organization needs a membership directory or even a redesigned website, then contact Lawyer Legion for more information. Send them an e-mail at support@lawyerlegion.com.

The Only Nationwide Directory for Board Certified Attorneys

The directory is also unique because it is the only nationwide directory that puts a strong emphasis on recognizing attorneys who are certified specialist in any state program or accredited national program. By using the directory, members of the public can narrow their search to find only board certified specialist attorneys.

The directory also features badges for membership or leadership within other types of legal organizations. It is still a work in progress, but click here to see how it works for finding criminal defense attorneys in Florida. This is another example for criminal defense lawyers in San Francisco, CA.

Claim and Complete Your Free Listing on Lawyer Legion

The directory already has profiles for more than 100,000 attorneys. Especially if you are an attorney focused on criminal defense DUI, family law, personal injury, bankruptcy and immigration, chances are your profile is already in the Lawyer Legion directory. Claim and complete your profile and let us know what you think.

Dwight Dudley Voted to Speed Up Executions in Florida

The Florida legislature just passed the so-called “Timely Justice Act.” The bill promises to radically change the death penalty process by forcing an automatic timetable into the process of determining which prisoner sitting on death row should be executed next. The power to issue the execution warrants is no longer left up to the governor.

Among other things, the act would require the Florida governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of a Supreme Court review. It also requires execution of the punishment of death to be carried out within 180 days thereafter.

Do we need help in that area? Gov. Rick Scott has been accelerating the pace of signing death warrants in Florida. He recently lined up three executions to take place within a 6 week period.

This legislation speeds up the process and automates it under an arbitrary timeline that bears no relationship to the facts of the case or the requirements of justice.

Florida is also the state most likely to send an innocent person to death row. Since the mid-70s, Florida has exonerated 24 twenty four people who were sitting on death row. Twenty four human beings scheduled to die. That number is higher in Florida than any other state.

Why would anyone want to speed the process up - especially in Florida? Is the plan to speed up the executions so that the wrongfully accused are actually dead before they can be exonerated?

The real shocker is that Dwight Dudley, a practicing criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County, voted Yes to House Bill 7083 on April 25, 2013. Dwight Dudley was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, District 68, in 2012.

This vote comes as a surprise to a few criminal defense attorneys who expected a little more from Dwight Dudley. Attorney Haydee Oropesa was nice enough to explain that twist in the story to me today while we were sitting in court waiting for our cases to be called. She actually had to pull the vote up on her cell phone to show me the green "Yes" next to the name "Dudley" because I couldn't believe it.

If you don't believe me - you can see it here - http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/floorvote.aspx?VoteId=14084&BillId=50802&&

The "Timely Justice Act" was presented to Governor Rick Scott on June 3, 2013. He has until the end of the month to either sign it into law or veto the legislation.  Click here to read all 66 pages of CS/CS/HB 7083 -SJ 680.   

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