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By Jessica Travis on Tuesday, August 6, 2013
In the latest effort to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, attorney John Morgan is using his prominent status in the Orlando legal community as well as a hefty sum of his own financial backing to push two bills through the Florida Legislature onto the 2014 ballot. With support from People United for Medical Marijuana, an Orlando-based fundraising committee, John Morgan makes a powerful attempt to allow the Florida voters to decide on the issue of legalizing medical marijuana on their state’s ballot. Morgan has become passionate about reforming the marijuana laws in his home state ever since he saw the immense benefits the substance provided to his ailing father. Morgan’s father, who battled cancer and emphysema in his later years, said marijuana acted like a wonder drug, allowing him to eat, relax, and ease his suffering.
As to date, Florida law is very stringent on controlled substances, specifically, marijuana possession. If you have been arrested for possession of cannabis, the penalties for the crime can be unforgiving. Being caught with a minor amount (less than twenty grams) of marijuana is a 1st Degree Misdemeanor and can land you up to a year in jail. The same punishment can even be given if you attempt to merely give someone else a minor amount of marijuana for free. Being busted for a larger amount (more than twenty grams) is considered a 3rd Degree Felony, carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison. The laws in Florida do not recognize whether someone’s possession of marijuana is for medical or personal use. In Florida, marijuana use is illegal on all fronts.
With the 683,149 signatures required to bring the legislation to the Florida ballot, Morgan’s battle for the reformation of marijuana laws appears like an uphill fight. However, although Florida has traditionally been a conservative state, the demographics of the state voters are changing. With a high immigrant population and a more liberal view from Florida’s younger generation, Morgan’s required signatures may come easier than expected.
Although the laws on marijuana are harsh in Florida, medical marijuana laws are rapidly passing in legislation all over the country. Currently, eighteen states, ranging from the liberal state of
Colorado to the conservative state of Arizona, have passed medical marijuana laws. Just as Morgan is attempting to do with his petition drive, most of the medical marijuana laws passed in other states have been approved by voters, not the legislature.
With John Morgan’s latest attempt to legalize medical marijuana in his home state, Florida’s current tough legislation on marijuana use and possession could drastically change. However, until Morgan’s petition initiative is complete and the bills make it onto the 2014 ballot, the marijuana laws in the Sunshine State will continue to remain strict and harsh.
You can view the petition at: http://www.unitedforcare.org/
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