Jacksonville responds to medical marijuana vote
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 11:10:00 PM EST
Twenty states and Washington, D.C. now allow the use of medical marijuana; in a 4 to 3 vote Monday the Florida Supreme Court approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative for the Nov. 4th election.
Channel 4 got reaction from people about the vote Monday night. Everyone from the governor to the "average Joe" is weighing in on the historic decision, which even the high court was divided on Monday.
On one side are people who believe there is no reason Florida shouldn't follow the lead of other states when it comes to medicinal marijuana use. On the other side are people who think it opens a dangerous legal and medical loophole, and that the drug could easily be abused.
"It took an uprising in the early 1900s through Prohibition to make alcohol legal, and that's the same thing that's happening now with marijuana," said supporter, Richard Waters.
The stakes are high as Florida looks to become the 21st state to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana.
"I'm going to vote for it. I think it's been legalized in other states, and it's definitely better than drinking alcohol and safer," said supporter Agatha O'Connell.
While some people believe it's a law that is long overdue and one that will only benefit people with debilitating diseases, State Sen. John Thrasher argues that it creates a gray area that could do more harm than good.
"I think there are going to be a lot of consequences -- unintended consequences -- for people who are prescribed this if it passes, and I think law enforcement and a lot of other folks are going to have issues when it comes to dealing with this and how it's going to be applied," said Thrasher.
If the measure is backed by 60 percent of voters come November, Florida would become the first southern state to approve marijuana for medical use.
Gov. Rick Scott opposes the initiative, as do the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Sheriff's Association.
"Today's ruling leaves the issue of medical marijuana in the hands of Florida voters," said Attorney General Pam Bondi. "I encourage every Floridian to read the full amendment in order to understand the impact it could have on Floridians."
Former Gov. Charlie Crist countered Bondi's response Monday, saying, "This is an issue of compassion, trusting doctors and trusting the people of Florida. I will vote for it."
While the polls don't open for another nine months, many locals say they already know how they'll vote.
"I'm all for it. Medicinal marijuana should be a choice," said supporter Pam Oldham.
"I'd vote for it because people need it. Some people need it, people that can't see, glaucoma," said supporter Donte Wilson.
"I could see the good points of it but I could also see the bad choices about it, but I mean I don't really have an opinion because I don't smoke weed," said Paige Crawford, who is undecided.
The ballot measure also comes with a hefty price tag, as experts estimate the campaign could cost at least $10 million, which is on top of the nearly $4 million that's already been spent just to get it on the ballot.