Medical marijuana remains illegal after Amendment 2 received just 57 percent of the required 60 percent supermajority needed to pass the constitutional amendment.
If the amendment had passed, Florida would have joined 23 other states and the District of Columbia in making marijuana usage for medicinal purposes legal.
Amendment 2 was arguably one of the most hot-button topics on the ballot, with both sides spending millions of dollars to make their stance on the issue known.
Jon Mills, former speaker of the house in Florida who also wrote the amendment, said this was a close race, but it is not over.
“The major consequence from this is that patients will still be considered criminals and will be refused access to care,” he said. “There are always more options to push this through. We can try and use the legislature, or we can make another attempt at the amendment.”
Mills said that misdirection played a part in this amendment being shot down. He said there were false claims and misunderstandings about what this amendment actually was intended for.
“This was a disappointment in the short term,” he said. “But people get more educated every day, and just because it didn’t happen this time doesn’t mean that it’s going to be like this forever.”
If anything can be taken away from this election and this amendment, it would be information and education, Mills said. People got a chance to hear facts instead of just the normal rhetoric about the topic.
Not everyone is as disappointed as Mills by the decision. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell was doing her “happy-dance” after the results came in.
She said the vote against Amendment 2 takes a huge amount of stress off her and the county’s law enforcement. Even though the amendment allotted for six months before any changes went into effect, Darnell said that would not have been enough time to get prepared.
“If you had doubled my budget before the election, it still wouldn’t have been enough to get ready for all that would have had to be done,” she said.
Darnell said law enforcement is already over-burdened with higher-priority issues than people having more access to marijuana.
“There are a lot of ways this could have passed, but a constitutional amendment wasn’t the way,” she said.
Darnell said her biggest concern was the way the amendment was written.
“We would all like to believe that we live in a perfect world and that every part of the amendment would be followed to the letter,” she said. “But in order to protect the greater good, some personal rights will inevitably be infringed.”
Even Darnell said this election was a good opportunity for people to get more educated about the topic.
“If we can take anything away from this amendment failing, maybe it is a healthy discussion about the decriminalization of certain amounts of marijuana,” she said.
Ben Pollara, director of United for Care, said the loss was a huge disappointment. He said his organization has one question for lawmakers in Tallahassee.
“How is it that the people have spoken, and we got the popular vote, but this still won’t pass?” Pollara said. “It is a surprise that we can get 57 percent of the popular vote and not get passed but our governor got elected with less than 50 percent of the popular vote.”
Pollara said there will be several steps going forward. The first of which is going to Tallahassee.
“There was a lot of distortion of the truth against this amendment,” he said. “People were misinformed about a lot of the issues, but we still got our point across and it showed by getting the popular vote.”
If all efforts fail at the state capitol, United for Care will push for new legislation and even attempt another amendment.
“This amendment was about medicine, not recreational usage of marijuana,” he said. “It’s just sad that patients will still be refused access to treatment.”