In 2014, there was hope that Amendment 2 would pass in Florida, allowing Sunshine State residents legal access to medical cannabis.
A poll from the University of North Florida had Amendment 2 as passing.
A UNF poll also had Charlie Crist getting elected governor in 2014.
In the end, neither came to pass. Rick Scott barely beat Charlie Crist (who had a virtually nonexistent campaign in Jacksonville) and won re-election.
And Amendment 2 likewise was a couple of points shy of the 60 percent threshold.
Current UNF polls show 73 percent support for Amendment 2. While that amount is down from the 77 percent of a few weeks ago, the measure pulls 60 percent support in every age group — even from Republicans.
This time around, the effort is a little bit older and a little bit wiser.
Trial lawyer John Morgan, a major Democratic donor and the primary backer of the amendment both times out, is not all over the airwaves as the voice of the movement this time. And he isn’t travelling around and giving drunken speeches at bars.
This time around, the opposition is a little more muted.
To be sure, some prominent Florida Republicans — such as state Sen. Jack Latvala from the Tampa area — have come out against the amendment, saying it’s a back door to legalize marijuana carte blanche.
This, despite the heavily restricted list of qualifying conditions, which include HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, PTSD, epilepsy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated.”
The committee against the amendment — Drug Free Florida — doesn’t have the same kind of fuel in the machine it had last time out, either.
Ambassador Mel Sembler, a big Jeb Bush backer in the distant past when he was looking to be the next president, has spent more than a million bucks to crush A2.
Also spending seven figures: casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose other good ideas have included bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign. (What was he smoking that year? LOLZ)
But seriously, Adelson and his wife also have a major presence in Israel, which is a global leader in medical marijuana research. Unlike in the U.S., though, they haven’t done much to fight it there.
Another factor undermining the opposition: the utter botch job that was Tallahassee’s implementation of Charlotte’s Web legislation.
Despite the fact that Charlotte’s Web has about as much THC as the hemp seeds you can buy at health food stores, it took the GOP legislature the better part of two years to even figure out which nurseries can cultivate it, and how they should distribute it.
Meanwhile, in cities like Jacksonville, the city council — shaken to its core by the prospect of seeming “pro-drug” — took the better part of that time hemming and hawing about where cultivation and distribution could happen.
If you’re the mother of a sick kid who needs this medicine, you might wonder why political posturing took precedence over getting medical treatment for your child. But you shouldn’t wonder too long. This is, after all, America, where people go from cradle to grave having their thoughts and their rights dictated by multinational corporations and the politicians they rent. Some of those pols, so I hear, have the Pfizer logo “tramp-stamped” inches above their coccyx.
If Amendment 2 passes — and yes, despite the polls, it is an IF — expect Jacksonville City Council to fast-track a moratorium so it can have more zoning meetings to ensure that veterans with PTSD, cancer patients and people with multiple sclerosis have to wait up to six months until it figures out which of our half-empty strip malls and office parks are suitable to serve as distribution points.
That’s what small, non-intrusive government is all about, right?
It’s not just Jacksonville, of course. Cities throughout the state will have the same alarmist conversations, in which so-called small-government Republicans will beat their chests and bleat about public morality … which doesn’t seem to matter so much when their presidential candidate faces sexual assault allegations on the daily … but which does matter, intensely, when the prospect of someone benefiting from THC is brought up.
What really drives such fevered fulminations, however, is not a concern about public morality … but a realization that the world is changing.
The ’80s are over. Ronald Reagan has been laid to rest. And the reefer madness hysteria of the last century, which benefited the stockholders of the private prison industry much more than it did actual people, has been roundly discredited.
Amendment 2 will likely pass next week. And it’s long past time that it do so.
Perhaps on the 2018 ballot, someone can push an amendment to decriminalize cannabis for everyone who needs it.