Florida vot­ers give their OK to med­i­cal mar­i­juana

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Alexan­dra Zavis

Vot­ers in Florida on Tues­day over­whelm­ingly ap­proved a bal­lot mea­sure al­low­ing the use of mar­i­juana for med­i­cal pur­poses as mil­lions across Amer­ica weighed in on some of the most con­tentious is­sues fac­ing the na­tion.

Eight other states were also con­sid­er­ing mea­sures to ex­pand le­gal ac­cess to the drug, which is still pro­hib­ited by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Med­i­cal mar­i­juana is al­ready le­gal in 25 states, but Florida is the first in the South to ap­prove such a mea­sure.

Pro­pos­als on gun con­trol, the death penalty and rais­ing the min­i­mum wage were also among more than 150 mea­sures un­der con­sid­er­a­tion on state bal­lots across the coun­try.

Sup­port­ers of le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana hope votes like the one in Florida will help change the conversation in Wash­ing­ton.

“This is a ma­jor tip­ping point,” said Tom An­gell, chair­man of the Mar­i­juana Ma­jor­ity group. “With Florida’s decision, a ma­jor­ity of states in the U.S. now have laws al­low­ing pa­tients to find re­lief with med­i­cal mar­i­juana, and these pro­tec­tions and pro­grams are no longer con­cen­trated in cer­tain re­gions of the coun­try like the West and North­east.”

Arkansas and North Dakota were also de­cid­ing whether to al­low med­i­cal mar­i­juana. Cal­i­for­nia was among five states — in­clud­ing Ari­zona, Maine, Mas­sachusetts and Ne­vada — de­cid­ing whether to al­low the recre­ational use of the drug.

If all the mea­sures pass, the drug will be le­gal for medic­i­nal or recre­ational pur­poses in 29 states.

Here is a look at some of the other is­sues at stake.

Four states were de­cid­ing whether to in­crease re­stric­tions on the sale of guns and am­mu­ni­tion.

Ne­vada and Maine had pro­pos­als on the bal­lot to ex­pand fed­eral back­ground checks on firearm sales be­tween pri­vate par­ties, clos­ing a loop­hole that sup­port­ers say has al­lowed con­victed felons, do­mes­tic abusers and the men­tally ill to buy firearms at gun shows and on­line.

Wash­ing­ton was weigh­ing whether to al­low fam­i­lies or au­thor­i­ties to get a court or­der to tem­po­rar­ily seize guns from in­di­vid­u­als who are deemed a threat to them­selves or oth­ers. Calif or­nia was de­cid­ing whether to strengthen the state’s reg­u­la­tion of am­mu­ni­tion sales, with a bal­lot mea­sure re­quir­ing back­ground checks for am­mu­ni­tion pur­chases as well as a ban on large ammo clips.

Ne­braska voted on whether to re­in­state cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment af­ter state law­mak­ers re­pealed it. Ok­la­homa, mean­while, de­cided to en­shrine the death penalty in the state con­sti­tu­tion.

Cal­i­for­nia had two com­pet­ing mea­sures on its bal­lot, one of which would re­peal the death penalty, while the other would speed up ap­peals so sen­tences can be car­ried out more quickly.

The fed­eral min­i­mum wage of $ 7.25 an hour hasn’t changed in seven years. But four states were de­cid­ing whether to push their own min­i­mums higher.

Ari­zona, Colorado and Maine voted on whether to phase in an in­crease to $12 an hour by 2020. Wash­ing­ton was de­cid­ing whether to raise its min­i­mum wage to $13.50. And in South Dakota, vot­ers were con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing the min­i­mum wage for work­ers un­der 18 to $7.25 an hour from $8.55.

AMY BETH BEN­NETT/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SEN­TINEL

Florid­i­ans show their sup­port for an amend­ment to le­gal­ize med­i­cal mar­i­juana Tues­day.

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