Photo by Dank Depot | Flickr CCDo you like smoking weed? I do. At the moment, though, as you may know if you’ve ever been pulled over and swallowed a roach or hidden a sack in your sock, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning the DEA lists it in the top tier of dangerous drugs right along with narcotics like heroin. It’s worth noting that cocaine is a Schedule II drug and that this scheduling scale is closely linked to the severity of sentencing in drug cases.
Marijuana, however, is the interesting exception in its class in that it is the only Schedule I drug that has been legalized in multiple states, with some, like California, allowing it only for medicinal use, while others, such as Colorado, have opted for full-on legalization. And next month, the Sunshine State might become one of the newest states to adopt such a policy regarding marijuana, depending upon what happens with Amendment 2.
But before you start feeding the grinder, let’s hunker down and talk some numbers and what they mean. How likely is this amendment to pass come Election Day? What does it mean if Florida becomes the first Southern state to pass a medical marijuana amendment, and what does it mean if it doesn’t? And what precisely does this amendment say in the first place?
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What in hell does this amendment say, anyway?
Amendment 2 would make medical marijuana legal in Florida. The letter of the law would be that doctors could issue certifications for medical marijuana to people with “conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” Think California: medical cards and medical dispensaries with taxation and regulation.
One of the possible distinctions between Florida’s amendment and the example of California and its statute is that Florida’s Department of Health is very keen on regulating medical marijuana — from the doctor’s office to the dispensary — much more tightly than it’s regulated in California. That means it’ll likely be a bit tougher than simply walking into your general practitioner’s office and saying you have a recurring headache (chronic headache would almost definitely be too thinly veiled) to get a card. It also means there will probably be significantly stricter zoning laws regarding the distance between schools and dispensaries, so don’t expect to be able to pick up a quarter-ounce on Washington Avenue across the street from Fienberg-Fisher or anywhere near any other elementary, middle, or high school.
How likely is it that medical marijuana will be heading to a dispensary near you?
Well, that’s become a trickier question to answer of late. Over the past year, polls have shown up to 88 percent of voters in favor of the measure, but as the gubernatorial race has heated up and Florida’s political landscape has grown increasingly divided, the numbers have been sliding closer to the margin of error. One of the more recent polls conducted by the Graham Center at the University of Florida had the voters split 48-44 in favor of the amendment, and because it’s a constitutional amendment rather than a regular old bill, it’ll need at least 60 percent of the vote to pass.