The fight to legalize marijuana in Florida is not over. 3,320,836 Floridians voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana on November 4, 2014. It received 58% of the votes.
Although Amendment 2 wasn't perfect and many argued that it didn't go far enough, it did create a path for obtaining marijuana for medical purposes. It was a good start on the path to legalize marijuana in Florida for recreational purposes.
Although it did not obtain the 60% needed, it did receive more votes than the last six (6) elected governors. Amendment 2 receive the second
highest majority of any medical marijuana vote in our nations history. Amendment 2 received 500,000 more votes than Rick Scott, the governor elected.
The Florida legislature should act quickly to bring a good Medical Marijuana law to Florida. It is particularly important that the law provides for a mechanism for caregivers to cultivate a small number of plants. That provision was left out of Amendment 2.
Because of Amendment 2, millions of Floridians are better informed. The majority of Floridians understand that the war on marijuana and efforts to prohibit it have failed.
Prohibition funds the Mexican Drug Cartels and violent crime. It creates a drain on the resources of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and our criminal justice system. It is nothing more than a jobs program for law enforcement officers and those that profit from the status quo.
Legalization raises tax money for the state. It will create hundreds of small businesses in Florida that will replace the underground criminal system that import marijuana into our state.
Criminal defense attorneys throughout the state of Florida will continue to fight to protect their client's charged with marijuana possession charges.
We will have to explain to our clients how our elected officials in Washington D.C. can possess marijuana for recreational purposes, but the same act in Florida is a crime punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and automatic 2 year driver's license suspension (with no possibility of a hardship license for the first 12 months), and a $1,000 fine (plus additional junk fees and court costs).
Even if you avoid the conviction and jail time, any probation sentence or diversion program requires hundreds of dollars, and hours spent on community service, drug testing and counseling. Then the individual must spend thousands of dollars to seal or expunge the criminal record and eliminate all mug shots published by data mining companies like mugshot [dot] com.
So Amendment 2 is dead. But the next fight to legalize marijuana in Florida will be better funded and carry a more sweeping mandate. It is not over.
Update on Friday, January 9, 2015: Read more about getting medical marijuana on the Florida ballot in 2016.