With Pinellas County state Sen. Jeff Brandes becoming the first Republican in the Florida Senate to back Amendment 2, supporters of medical marijuana are trumpeting the endorsement.
At the end of last week, Politico reported that Brandes was supporting Amendment 2 which expands medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
“The Legislature screwed up the opportunity in the medical marijuana law. What you’ve seen them do is create a situation where only a handful of families can get wealthy,” Brandes told Politico.“And the Legislature believes it knows better than physicians on how to treat patients. And the only way we’re going to see meaningful change in that area is to put it in the Constitution.”
Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of United for Care, which is spearheading Amendment 2, cheered the news on Monday.
“Senator Brandes has, for years, made significant efforts to secure access to patients through the legislative system,” Pollara said. “That he is supporting the revised version of Amendment 2 is a big deal, and a signal that this is non-partisan issue. Passing Amendment 2 is about helping the hundreds of thousands of very ill people in Florida find relief through another option with the consent of their doctor."
Last November, Brandes filed a bill in the Legislature to expand medical marijuana in Florida.
“This legislation recognizes the growing support in Florida for the medicinal use of marijuana as an additional option for physicians in the treatment of their patients,” Brandes said when he brought out that bill. "We build on the best practices of the 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. The bill creates a responsible regulatory framework, offers patients with debilitating conditions access to this course of treatment, and it focuses funding on valuable medical research."
For Amendment 2 to be adopted, it will need 60 percent support at the November ballot. Polls show it is currently in good shape. A poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) released last week found 70 percent of voters backed Amendment 2 while 23 percent opposed it. Democrats backed the proposal 81 percent to 13 percent. Amendment 2 also did well with voters outside the major parties as 70 percent supported it and 21 of them opposed it. Republicans were more divided but a majority--55 percent--backed the proposal while 38 percent were against it.
But, back in 2014, polls showed a similar proposal--also entitled Amendment 2--doing well though it faded in the final weeks before the ballot and fell short at 58 percent on Election Day.