Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Poll: legalizing medical marijuana in Florida more popular than ever

Democratic State Senator Jeff Clemens plans to propose a bill legalizing medicinal pot.

Posted by on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

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Florida Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens is drafting a bill that would legalize the use of medicinal marijuana in Florida. Unlike his previous attempts, this bill will not put the issue before Floridians as a constitutional amendment; it simply needs an up or down approval from his colleagues in the state Legislature.

According to a new poll conducted for People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) — the main activist group fighting to legalize medical marijuana — and published in the Miami Herald, legalizing medical marijuana is more popular than ever among Floridians, with up to seven out of 10 people supporting the measure. If Clemens' bill is unsuccessful, there's still hope — a bill proposed by Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer that would allow states to legalize medical marijuana.

According to Politico, the bill would create a framework for the Food & Drug Administration to eventually legalize medicinal marijuana. It would also block the federal government from interfering with any of the 19 states where medical marijuana is legal, as has been the case, particularly in California.

Earlier this month, Blumenauer issued a five-part agenda regarding marijuana:

Removing the federal ban on marijuana and taxing the drug the same way Congress regulates and taxes alcohol; allowing states to offer medical marijuana without federal interference; ending the ban on industrial hemp; eliminating tax and banking barriers that prevent marijuana businesses from operating legally and creating a "Sensible Drug Policy Working Group" in Congress to push the other four ideas.

The chance of Blumenauer's bill getting passed in Congress seems as dismal as any related progress here in Florida. In Marc Caputo's story in the Herald, he repeats the familiar litany that we've previously detailed — PUFMM doesn't have near enough signatures required (683,149) to get a measure on the ballot.

That's a shame seeing as the poll shows that 70 percent of Floridians support the concept, the highest ranking for this issue that any poll has demonstrated. Constitutional amendments in Florida must get 60 percent support approval at the polls.

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