Seven former Florida Supreme Court Justices say no to Amendment 2

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Seven former Florida Supreme Court Justices are lending their names to the Vote No on 2 campaign. In a news release, the seven announced their opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would authorize doctors to use marijuana to treat patients.

Former Justice Kenneth B. Bell said that once an amendment is added to the constitution it is difficult to change.

“A subject such as this should be addressed by general law,” Bell said. “The Legislature has already legalized a strain of low-THC marijuana for medical use that is not smoked. Any expansion of marijuana use should reflect further development in medical knowledge and have a carefully limited scope, which Amendment 2 does not do.”

The Supreme Court approved placing Amendment 2 on the ballot earlier this year. The court ruled 4 -3 that the plain text of the amendment would not mislead voters.

“With three current Justices adamantly opposed to putting Amendment 2 on the ballot and now seven former Justices warning Floridians of the dire legal consequences of passing this Amendment, voters should take note and vote no on 2,” the add quoted Tallahassee attorney Susan Kelsey.

Ben Pollara, manager for the Vote Yes on 2 campaign, called the former justices’ opposition irrelevant and the ad insulting.

“It strikes us as disrespectful to the sitting justices on the bench that these former members of the highest court in our state would publicly question the decisions of the court in such a manner,” Pollara said in a prepared statement.

“Furthermore, the suggestion by Susan Kelsey that a 4-3 decision is somehow less relevant than any other majority vote of the court demonstrates a lack of understanding of how the court works, an affront to the intelligence of the voters or both,” said Pollara.

The former Florida Supreme Court Justices who have announced their opposition to the amendment, according to Vote No on 2 are:

Parker Lee McDonald, served 1979 – 1994

Leander J. Shaw, Jr., served 1983 – 2003

Stephen H. Grimes, served 1987 – 1997

Major B. Harding, served 1991 – 2002

Charles T. Wells, served 1994 – 2009

Raoul G. Cantero, III, served 2002 – 2008

Kenneth B. Bell, served 2003 – 2008

If 60 percent of Florida voters approve it would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for a patient with a debilitating medical condition.  Polls have consistently showed overwhelming support for the proposal. Vote No on 2 has been arguing the initiative is filled with loopholes and has taken to referring to it as the “Pot for Anyone and for Any Reason Campaign.”

“That is their right. They have the right to free speech,” said Democratic Attorney General candidate George Sheldon when asked about the seven former justices joining the Amendment 2 debate.

Sheldon said more people should be chiming in.

“I (also) clearly think as a state that we have to start listening to doctors and scientists on an issue like medical marijuana,” said Sheldon, who supports Amendment 2. “I think there is concern about what the regulations are so this doesn’t get carried away.  That’s where an attorney general could be very forthcoming.  The attorney general ought to be involved in pulling together after the election, doctors and scientists and law enforcement and say how are we going to design these regs in such a way that this is truly medical marijuana that’s used for debilitating conditions.”

If Amendment 2 were to pass then the Department of Health would have until early July to establish regulations for the medicinal use of the marijuana plant.