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Florida House, Senate file brief against medical marijuana amendment

Florida House, Senate file brief against medical marijuana amendment

Florida legislative leaders have formally joined Attorney General Pam Bondi’s attempt to block a medical-marijuana constitutional amendment from reaching the ballot in November 2014.

In a brief filed Friday in the Florida Supreme Court, House General CounselDaniel Nordby and Senate General Counsel George Levesque argued that the ballot title and summary for the proposed amendment are misleading and use inaccurate rhetoric in a number of areas to obscure the “true purpose” of the ballot initiative.

The brief doesn’t contest the policy expressed in the proposed amendment.

The proposal is heavily backed by Orlando trial lawyer and Democratic donor John Morgan, whose firm employs recently announced gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

In the 50-page brief, Nordby and Levesque contend that while the title refers to use of marijuana for “certain medical conditions,” and the summary refers to “debilitating diseases,” the amendment instead provides an “open-ended authorization” for physicians when recommending marijuana use.

Also, they argue that the amendment violates the state constitution’s single-subject requirement by addressing three “logically-separable” subjects:

  • Removal of criminal liability and civil sanctions on individuals, caregivers and physicians.
  • Exemption from civil liability for “others” related to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
  • Creation of a new regulatory structure to promote the use of medical marijuana.

“This classic example of ‘logrolling’ denies voters the opportunity to vote in favor of a simple decriminalization of medical marijuana use by individuals suffering from serious illnesses without also expanding the regulatory reach of state government or providing immunity from civil liability,” Nordby and Levesque argued.