|Florida Gov. Rick Scott.|
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said yesterday that he would vote against a medical marijuana ballot initiative that could come before voters this fall, but that’s about all he can do. A ballot initiative approved by voters can’t be vetoed by Scott’s office.
Scott, the former head of Columbia/HCA hospitals, says he has empathy for sick Floridians, but that he can’t bring himself to approve of a freely available plant to help them. Instead, he conflated the issue and associated medical cannabis with alcohol and other illegal drug use.
“I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But, having seen the terrible effects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it,” Scott said in a release through is office. “No matter my personal beliefs, however, a ballot initiative would be up to the voters to decide.”
Scott has been a vocal supporter of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s crusade against the medical marijuana proposal. Bondi has argued to the state Supreme Court that the bill language is too vague and would open the floodgates for outright legalization in the Sunshine State. Ballot initiatives are limited to 75 words under Florida law.
The court is still weighing the matter, though a decision is expected by the first of February.
Meanwhile, the ballot measure continues to gain steam. Last week supporters touted collecting more than a million signatures. Those signatures are currently being verified, and at last count the petition was only 90,000 away from the 683,149 needed to get on the ballot.
Charlie Crist, a Republican-gone-Democrat candidate for governor who is supporting the measure, says that Bondi is overstepping her bounds.
“No disrespect to the attorney general, but the notion of trying to get it to a point where you and I and the people of Florida don’t get the opportunity to make this decision is not what a public servant should be doing,” Crist said last week to the Associated Press. “I support it, it’s the right thing to do, it is out of compassion and I’m glad John [Morgan, backer of the ballot initative to the tune of more than $3 million] doing it.”