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Pam Bondi challenges proposed medical marijuana amendment

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is contesting a proposed ballot initiative for a medical marijuana constitutional amendment and has asked the Florida Supreme Court for an opinion.

Bondi contends the proposal from People United for Medical Marijuana, a group led by high-profile attorney John Morgan, is misleading the public and is presented in a way that does not convey its “true meaning and ramifications.”

Bondi is required by law to send a ballot initiative to the state Supreme Court for review within 30 days after it’s submitted to her office.

The proposal, she wrote in a letter filed today to the court, implies that the amendment would allow medical marijuana in narrow, defined circumstances and only for patients for “debilitating diseases. But Bondi says that if the amendment passes, “Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations.”

She also writes that the amendment would call for the legal use of medical marijuana even though federal law still prohibits it.

Morgan argues that if the state legalized medical marijuana, the governor and legislature would still oversee licensing and regulations.

He said the proposal, being circulated in a statewide petition drive, includes language the public wants.

“They don’t want California,” said Morgan, whose face appears in ubiquitous advertising for his law firm, Morgan & Morgan. “They want medical doctors (to prescribe medical marijuana) and they want alternatives to pill mills” and painkillers that cause thousands of deaths, he said.

The proposal, being circulated in a statewide petition drive, includes several medical conditions under the term “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, glaucoma and Parkinson’s as well as “other conditions” when a physician believes “that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

Morgan said the proposal was drafted by Jon Mills, former dean of the University of Florida law school, a specialist in state constitutional law.

“The Republican party in the state of Florida is petrified about this amendment because they know that 77 percent of Florida wants it,” Morgan said. In early October, the Public Policy Polling found that 62 percent of voters supported the legalization of medical marijuana for seriously patients in Florida. Support "gets stronger every day," he said.

People United for Medical Marijuana has collected 200,000 signatures supporing the amendment. The campaign will need 700,000 signatures, but more realistically 1 million in case any signatures are invalid, Morgan said.