Florida, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will all be voting on marijuana come November and none of those votes are a sure thing. Since Florida looks the shakiest, we will focus on that state in this post, but what we say here holds true in every state, to some degree.

Two of our lawyers are Florida-licensed and we have been spending large amounts of time in Florida working with clients there and with clients interested in going there. Our lead cannabis lawyer, Hilary Bricken, grew up in Florida and did both her law school and her undergrad there. Hilary splits her time between Florida and Washington. We mention these things to prove our bona fides to write on what          has been transpiring there.

Based on what we are hearing and seeing in Florida, we know that few of you are happy with Amendment 2, with some of the people behind Amendment 2, and with how Amendment 2 is being sold to the public. We get that and we are not even going to try arguing against those feelings.

We instead ask you subjugate those feelings for the good of the cause, which is to advance legalization.

Legalization is not going to happen in one perfect swoop. It is going to come haltingly, step by imperfect step. Florida will not be an exception.

Pro-cannabis voters have complained in every single state about the following aspects of the legalization effort:

  • It’s bad because marijuana should not be regulated at all
  • It’s bad because marijuana should not be taxed at all
  • It’s bad because it does not go far enough towards legalizing
  • It’s bad because it does not provide for medical marijuana for this or that ailment
  • It’s bad because it will raise the cost of marijuana
  • It’s bad because it will be too difficult to get a cannabis recommendation
  • It’s bad because it will be too expensive to get a cannabis recommendation
  • It’s bad because it does not allow out-of-staters to get into the cannabis business
  • It’s bad because it allows out-of-staters to get into the cannabis business
  • It’s bad because too many qualifying conditions are on the list for patients
We hear you and we agree with you on many of these things.
And Florida — probably more than any other state, has additional baggage, and we are constantly hearing the following complaints:
  • It’s all political
  • It’s all being done for the gubernatorial race
  • It’s all controlled by a few attorneys who are doing it for publicity/more business
  • It’s all controlled by a few people and those people are dislikable and are going to sink the whole thing
  • It’s all controlled by a few people who have no clue about cannabis
  • It’s all controlled by a few people who have no clue about what Florida really needs
  • Amendment 2 was written by people who know little to nothing about cannabis
  • Amendment 2 was written to benefit “the cabal” (your words not ours) behind it
  • Amendment 2 is so vague as to be worthless and will only create chaos, which in turn could lead to de-legalization

Though we concede the depth and range of feelings in Florida regarding the above, we will not debate whether some or all of the above are true, simply because they should ALL be irrelevant on how you vote — with the possible exception of the last one. Sure, some people will benefit more than others from your “yes” on 2 vote, but that will always be the case on any vote. What you should be looking at is whether you and Florida as a whole will benefit from an admittedly imperfect Amendment 2. And you will. With time, you so will.

No state started with a perfect bill supported by perfect people. We are big fans of what Oregon is doing with its Proposal 91. It is a very thoughtful proposal drafted and supported by a group of people (including lawyers) who have for the most part subjugated their own interests for the good of the Proposal. But even Oregon’s measure is far from perfect and will no doubt be modified over time.

And that is what has to happen in Florida as well. If you vote yes on Amendment 2, you will be sending a clear message that you favor legalization. If you vote no, for on any of the reasons given above, your no vote will be seen by most as a vote opposing legalization in any form. More importantly, you will set back legalization for who knows how long, and that includes the kind of legalization you want. Whatever sort of legalization you want for Florida, your chances of Florida achieving that legalization will be greater if Amendment 2 passes rather than fails. If it passes, you (and us) can the very next day start working to improve the laws in Florida, but if it fails, we will all need to start over at square one.

We hear your frustration and your pain and we are not trying in any way to silence that. But we are saying that voting no on Amendment 2 will not be a good way to express that.

Vote yes on Amendment 2 and then let’s work together to fix it. Who’s with us?