Florida to vote on medical marijuana in November election

Image: Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in Colorado
Marijuana plants are seen under multi-colored grow lights in the growing rooms at the Denver Discreet Dispensary in Denver, Colo.

Florida could become the next state to allow medical marijuana.

On Monday, the state’s Supreme Court approved, by a 4-3 vote, a medical marijuana ballot initiative for the Nov. 4  election.

The amendment would allow the sale of the drug through state regulated dispensaries and greenlight its use with a doctor’s recommendation.

The measure would need  60% of the votes cast in the election to become law, but polls show strong backing for legal cannabis in the state, with one as high as 82%. And advocates for medical marijuana said they have exceeded the 683,149 signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is up for re-election in 2014, has said he is against medical marijuana. His Democratic opponents, former Gov. Charlie Crist and state Sen. Nan Rich, are for it.

Public opinion about the drug is changing.

Fifty-five percent of Americans support legislative efforts to legalize marijuana, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Almost a quarter of the country does not approve of laws to legalize marijuana, but would tolerate them. Those Americans (24 percent) would not actively seek the repeal of laws backed by state voters and state legislatures.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 20 states and Washington D.C.  And Washington State and Colorado legalized the recreational use of the drug following voter referendums in 2012. President Obama told The New Yorker last week that he doesn’t think marijuana “is more dangerous than alcohol.” He added, however, “it’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”