On Tuesday, Florida voters were keen to keep the state green in just one way – some grass will be conserved, and some won’t see the light of day.
Amendment 1, concerning the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, was approved with nearly 75 percent of the votes, while Amendment 2, involving the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, did not obtain the supermajority necessary to be approved.
The passage of Amendment 1 means that the Land Acquisition Trust Fund will devote more money to the conservation of water, wildlife and landscape.
“It’s going to be a consistent source of funding for the conservation and protection of water forces, forest restoration and coast line protection,” said Kathleen Sealey, a professor in the ecosystem and science policy program. “Florida, California and Texas are places with highly endangered species, and Florida faces a very special problem in conserving and protecting areas across the landscape, so this constitutional amendment forces there to be a minimum revenue to preserve land, water and wildlife.”
Though nearly 58 percent of voters agreed with the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana, it was still two percent short of the percentage needed to pass the amendment.
Micah Nellessen, president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter at the University of Miami, believes residents will be disappointed that the amendment did not pass. SSDP is an organization pushing for policy reform regarding medical marijuana. SSDP had representatives on more than 15 campuses in Florida acting as the face of the United for Care campaign, which lobbied for the inclusion of Amendment 2 on this year’s ballot.
“Falling just two percent short of that number, I think that a lot of Florida residents are going to be upset,” said Nellessen. “Some may stay and lobby for another two years. Some may need access more quickly and will migrate out of Florida to a state with better cannabis policies. With no access to safe, regulated and standardized product, medical cannabis users in Florida will continue to be labeled as criminals.”
Junior Rachel Rosen, a nursing student, explained some of the benefits and drawbacks of the legalization of medical marijuana.
“The big advantages of medical marijuana are decreasing pain and nausea in treatments like chemotherapy,” Rosen said. “Chemotherapy also causes appetite suppression, something that could be improved with marijuana. However, as with any medication, it is possible to be dose-dependent.”
Nellessen also highlighted that, despite its defeat, Amendment 2 received a higher percentage of votes than either of the candidates running for governor, as Rick Scott was elected with less than 50 percent of the votes.
He added that the two percent of votes necessary to make the amendment pass could have been obtained by a higher youth turnout, as only 12 percent of people under 30 voted Tuesday.
“This cause does not die here,” he said. “The lobbying will continue until the people get what they so clearly want.”
Medical marijuana legalization was passed in Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska, according to CNN.