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Florida Supreme Court clears medical marijuana ballot measure

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has always been the subject of controversy. Some states have legalized the drug for this purpose, while a smaller number have even made use and possession for recreational purposes acceptable. But in Florida the possession of marijuana for any intent remains a crime. That may be one step closer to changing, though, based on a recent unanimous decision by the state's supreme court.

In its review of the validity under the Florida Constitution of a ballot measure intended for inclusion in the election coming in November of next year, the court held that the proposed measure meets the tests for constitutionality (the court does not consider the merits of the proposed ballot measure when making this determination). The court's decision is only one of the hurdles that the proposal must clear to be included on the November 2016 ballot. One other requirement is that it must have enough valid petition signatures, which the sponsors of the petition are still gathering. The final requirement is that voters must approve the ballot measure by a 60 percent margin, which was narrowly missed the last time a medical marijuana ballot measure appeared on the ballot in 2014.

Even if the proposed measure gains the signatures necessary to qualify for consideration in the upcoming election, and even it receives sufficient votes to become Florida state law, that does not necessarily mean that users of marijuana for claimed medical reasons will be immune from criminal drug charges. The use or possession of marijuana remains contrary to federal laws, and the de facto non-enforcement policy on the part of the federal government now when it comes to conflicts between federal and state marijuana laws may not be the case after the outcome of the upcoming election, depending on who wins the presidency.

Anyone facing either federal or state drug charges must still make retaining experienced legal defense counsel an immediate priority. That such counsel should be well versed in drug-related criminal defense is an important consideration when choosing a defense attorney in such cases.

 

Source: WPTV, "Florida Supreme Court signs off on medical marijuana proposal," Jim Saunders, Dec. 17, 2015

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