ORLANDO WEEKLY ON WMFE: Billy Manes on the politics of medical marijuana





The big Floridian election-year news coming out of the last week wasn’t really Gov. Rick Scott’s terribly named “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” and its historic $74.2 billion dollars of empty promises. Nor was it the sudden glove removal of perpetually pleasant “people’s governor” Charlie Crist in the face of Scott’s litany of false economic accusations. No, the big pearl-clutching news was that, against all odds and historical precedent, Florida voters would have the chance to vote on a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana in November.


Last week, the Florida Supreme Court approved the ballot language on the medical marijuana initiative, swiftly following the news that attorney John Morgan’s army of angels had achieved the required number of petitions to advance the measure. Of course, Tallahassee’s Republican leadership, which had already dug in its prudish heels on the notion, was swift to react, with House Speaker Will Weatherford warning of the “Coloradofication” of a sunshine state under the influence of the mighty weed. Fine, we’ll fight this one out at the ballot box like adults do.


Which is why this democracy thing is important to remember. Last week also brought the revelation that, despite previous denials by Morgan himself, a pollster for Morgan had publicly drawn the connection between Democratic voter turnout and the marijuana issue. Well, if it takes millions of dollars and a million petitions to advance progressive policy in Republican-controlled Florida, we should be glad someone like Morgan was willing to take it on, regardless of tangential political connections. Welcome to the wedge, Democrats. This is how we play politics in Florida.

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