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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

If medical marijuana passes, how would Rubio or Murphy advocate in the Senate?

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, a Democrat, voted for the medical marijuana amendment. Incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against Amendment 2, but he has said before that he would support medical marijuana if it went through the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory process.

Associated PRess

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, a Democrat, voted for the medical marijuana amendment. Incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against Amendment 2, but he has said before that he would support medical marijuana if it went through the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory process.

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November

If Floridians vote to legalize medical marijuana through Amendment 2 on Tuesday, the state will open its borders to a new, booming industry that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in just a few years.

Yet federal law still categorizes marijuana as a controlled substance, though as many as 28 states and Washington, D.C., could have medical or recreational cannabis laws on the books after the election.

It's one of the reasons marijuana advocacy groups nationwide spring into action, raising money and backing advertisements, whenever another state puts marijuana on its ballot.

"Whenever a state passes a medical marijuana law, you get two United States senators who now represent a state with a marijuana industry," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the political committee backing Amendment 2.

Both of the men vying for Florida's U.S. Senate seat on this year's ballot say they support medical marijuana.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against Amendment 2, but he has said before that he would support medical marijuana if it went through the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory process. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, voted for the medical marijuana amendment.

But what would either of these men do on the issue in the U.S. Senate?

It's not entirely clear. Both the Rubio and Murphy campaigns refused to make their candidates available for an interview with the Times/Herald on the subject.

In a written statement, Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said the congressman supports the federal government allowing states to pass their own laws related to marijuana.

"Patrick believes the federal government should defer to states on the question of medical marijuana and should open up access to veterans who would benefit from its use," Slayen said. "He also believes that Federal banking regulators should quickly act to create a category of exempt activity like medical marijuana that is permissible under state law."

A Rubio spokesman sent audio of Rubio on an Oct. 22 interview with the NBC station in West Palm Beach where the senator said he doesn't think Amendment 2 is in the state's best interest.

"I don't think that I want to see a California-style situation where everyone's going into some dispensary claiming to have glaucoma and everyone's smoking joints," Rubio said. "That's just not good for our society. Think about the message that sends to young people."

UPDATE: On Monday, the United for Care campaign sent out an email to its supporters, urging them "When you're choosing who will represent Florida in the U.S. Senate, don't forget" their records on medical marijuana. 

"I know Rep. Patrick Murphy has a soul," the campaign's main funder, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, said in the email. "I know he'll be a champion for Florida's patients in the Senate."

[Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2016 2:29pm]

    

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