Previewing the medical marijuana battle in Florida
Times staff writer Stephen Nohlgren has a fascinating story examining the upcoming battle to legalize medicinal marijuana in Florida. An excerpt:
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes. But for the most part they are in liberal Western and Northeastern areas or in Rocky Mountain states with libertarian bents. None is in the South.
Florida is a national bellwether, says John Morgan, the Orlando attorney familiar to millions from his "For the People'' TV ads. He has stepped onto a new platform: the push to legalize medicinal marijuana.
"This is where the true melting pot is,'' says Morgan. "In Florida you have your raging liberals and retired generals, your academics and conservative Christians, your African-Americans and Cubans.''
He is behind a well-financed petition drive, expected to kick off this month, that needs nearly 700,000 Floridians to sign in favor of a plant more associated with stoners than healers. If enough signatures are gathered, the question will appear on ballots next year.
People with vicious diseases will hit the airwaves to describe how marijuana eases their symptoms. Opponents will contend that medical marijuana is primarily an excuse for people wanting to get high.
The rhetoric already is running high.