Bondi urges Fla. Supreme Court to deny pot proposal

rdymond@bradenton.comOctober 25, 2013 

MANATEE -- Parrish's Cathy Jordan, an advocate for legalization of medical marijuana ever 1989 when it first eased her symptoms from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is in Denver attending the four-day 2013 International Drug Policy Reform Conference.

But her husband, Robert Jordan, remains in Manatee County. He said his wife will be disappointed when she hears Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi criticized a proposed Florida amendment to legalize medical marijuana by calling the wording misleading in a filing Thursday to the Florida Supreme Court. Bondi asked the Supreme Court to block the amendment from going forward.

"Sure she will be disappointed because we know what they are doing is political," Robert Jordan said. "This whole thing is turning into a knife fight. Now the gloves start coming off."

At the center of the fight is the amendment language.

The Jordans say the amendment clearly states only people with serious diseases can use cannabis legally.

Bondi disagrees. She wrote the measure will allow the use of marijuana in "limitless situations" even though

the title and summary of the amendment suggest it would allow medical marijuana in specific cases such as patients dealing with "debilitating diseases."

"The sponsor has obscured the most fundamental issue underlying its proposal: the nature and scope of marijuana use the amendment would allow," Bondi wrote. "Any physician could approve marijuana for seemingly any reason to seemingly any person (of any age) -- including those without any `debilitating disease.' So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use would likely outweigh the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it."

Bondi, who led a Florida crackdown on pill mills and illegal use of prescription drugs, also wrote the amendment misleads voters into thinking it complies with federal law when it doesn't.

Jordan said he didn't understand Bondi's assertion about any person being able to use marijuana with a doctor's note.

"I don't know what she is talking about," Jordan said. "If you read the proposal, it is really restrictive, even more than Cathy and I are in favor of. It is pretty specific about the types of illnesses you have got to have. Where she is getting that, I don't know."

Jordan said Bondi is hoping to slow the process so medical marijuana supporters won't be able to place the issue up for vote on the 2014 ballot.

"She is trying to gum up the works," Jordan said. "The longer they delay, the harder it will be for those pushing the amendment to get the necessary signatures to make the deadline."

People United for Medical Marijuana Chairman John Morgan, a well-known attorney from Tampa, have been pushing to collect nearly 700,000 signatures by February in order to make the 2014 ballot.

But Bondi indicating the language of the proposal is misleading could lead the Supreme Court to take a long, hard look at the legislation, Jordan said. If the language must be changed, Morgan and his group would have to start over again with a new amendment.

"If Pam Bondi can get John Morgan back to square one there is no way he could make the 2014 ballot," Jordan said. "This is exactly what we didn't want to happen. We feel this is a medical issue, not a political one. But if she ties it up for a couple of months, it is done."

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the group pushing the amendment, criticized Bondi for trying "to deny Floridians the opportunity to even vote on this issue."

Florida law requires a super majority of voters -- 60 percent -- in order for an amendment to pass.

"It is not surprising that out-of-touch Tallahassee politicians like Pam Bondi continue to oppose compassionate health care policy in Florida," Pollara said in a statement. "We are also confident that when they are finally given an opportunity to vote on this issue, Floridians will -- by a wide margin -- bring safe, compassionate access to medical marijuana to the thousands of very ill residents of our state who are suffering every day without it."

-- Gary Fineout of Associated Press contributed to this report.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

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