So Election Day has come and gone and little has changed. Florida voters have spoken and the status of medical marijuana will remain tightly regulated for at least the next two years. But will we even want it then?
Will support rise up over the next few years, as it has done in the past, only to fall off as another election draws nearer?
I'm not so sure Floridians will be able to pass an amendment like this in another two years, or even another four. While the recent passing of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 was a huge leap forward for this movement, it honestly feels more like a stopgap than anything else, something to reduce the momentum of the overall surge for a more resolute legalization of the product.
There's a fear associated with marijuana that has attached itself to an entirely different substance.
Weed's always going to be associated with the other schedule 1 drugs, such as heroin or ecstasy. Regardless of the medicinal properties or the actual facts associated with the THC — the psychoactive constituent in weed that gets you high — in medicinal marijuana, Floridians will probably never be able to see past the stereotype created by Harry Anslinger back in the 1930s.
The idea that this amendment would have made it easier to get access to weed, while accurate, is a poor basis for voting against it. Weed is readily available to just about anybody who wants it, and legalizing it now wouldn't change that stoner population much at all. And besides that, medical marijuana isn't used to get high and is grown specifically for medicinal purposes: That means little to no THC and none of the desired effects of recreational use.
It is information like this that could potentially change the way medical marijuana is viewed by the public. While the most informed individuals almost always come out in ardent support for the drug, there are millions of voters who not only don't seek out the information but are rather content in their ignorance on the subject. And while it does ultimately come down to the proponents of such measures to ensure that correct information reaches as much of the constituency as possible, it reflects rather poorly on the voting body of our state that many of us are content with consuming propaganda.
The support exists for this kind of legislation, and eventually cannabis will become legal, at least for medicinal purposes, on a federal level. But the fervor of recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington has died down in the intervening years and recapturing that exigence is going to take time and effort. As it stands, Florida just isn't ready for such progressive measures, but as the rest of the country moves on we have to wonder what we're really holding back for.