The fad of legalization of Marijuana could be spreading so fast across the nation but this is not the case in Florida. Even though Amendment 2 that was once believed to command a huge support in the state won the majority of votes on the recently concluded vote it failed to meet the constitutional threshold of 60 percent. Most of the opposers of this amendment are of the opinion that the move will improve the quality of life of people residing in Florida. This is to avoid the eye sore of seeing pot shops all over Florida. The move is quite an appropriate move to protect the next generation from exposure to marijuana. The move by voters was indeed a smart move in the right direction to protect the community interests CITATION Noh14 l 1033 (Nohlgren).
This however did not go well with the supporters of legalization of marijuana in Florida who vowed to take the fight to the legislature. This is planned through the filing of a bill by minority legislature. The irony of this is that the Amendment 1 was victorious at the polls with it meeting the constitutional threshold. The popularity of Amendment 2 did not translate in it garnering support in the ballot. The fact that it had a constitutional backing and that it would be part of law made it quite unpopular to the Florida electorate. The passing of Amendment 2 into law would have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes making it possible for doctors to write marijuana prescriptions for patients with certain health complications CITATION Fer14 l 1033 (Ferner).
The amendment would have made a full reliance on the Department of Health in Florida to make a determination of the rules. Throughout the country most states have adopted a marijuana system that is medical but the constitutional threshold of 60 percent of the vote in Florida was quite a target to beat.
The numbers of American prisons is constantly always on the rise, with drug charges being the main felonies to blame. The Federal Bureau of Prisons shows a statistic of over 50% of inmates across United States prisons as being in jail for listed drug offences. From 16% in the 1970’s, the percentage has risen gradually thus establishing that the war on drugs still remains the American government’s biggest headache from decades ago up to present day. The United States Sentencing commission established that marijuana is the mostly convicted drug of choice amongst those inmates that are already behind bars. 27.6% of the drug offenders locked up from October 2012 to September 2013 were related to marijuana closely followed by cocaine and methamphetamine which were ranked at 22.5% each, cocaine came third at 11.5% followed by heroin at 8.8% and other drug substances measured up a clean a clean 7.2%. The increased numbers of federal prison has gone up considering that most of the offences being charged of the past couple of decades are rounded about drug offences convictions. Congressional Research Service Report estimates a deafening 215,000 drug offences inmates in 2012 up from the 1980 figure of 25,000 inmates CITATION Dor10 p 44 l 1033 (Dorsey and Middleton 44).
This numbers is a clear suggestion that the prisons are getting crowded thereby endangering the lives of both correctional officers and the inmates they are in charge of and all this numbers are connected to the tight drug laws that the United States government has enforced.
Recent years have seen the Obama Administration lighten the grip on drug offences charges and pledged to admonish much lenient jail sentences for no-violent and low level offenders. Bills have been presented in both the House and Senate seeking the reduction in prison sentences with calls for specific drug crime sentences to be reduced by half. On the offset, American laws on drugs were specifically aimed towards eradication of drug abuse through the enforcement of stringent laws not only in the United States but also across the borders.
In essence, the increased number of drug related prisoners in federal facilities is considered a business as prison managements have turned towards asking the government to give them full control of facilities with drug laws having spiked he prison numbers to levels of 700%. With this figures in mind, it is clear to conclude that the United States has the highest incarceration rate across the globe thus dwarfing the average of every single nation in the world. However, it is being suggested that a good number of those arrested for drug abuse are of racial minorities as opposed to white Americans thus bringing to mind the ideal that there is racial disparity in the United States fight against drug abuse not forgetting their the criminal justice system.
Drug arrests are more inclined towards racial minorities, who upon arrest, the likelihood of their conviction is high where they will be convicted with stiff sentences on the grounds of their racial background. Putting this fact into context, the possibility of African-Americans specifically males to be arrested is six times and 2.5times more as compared to that of white males and males of Hispanic origin. If this trend is to be put into consideration, for every seventeen born white males, one of them is likely to be convicted with a drug related offence in their lifetime and for every three black males born in the United States, one of them is likely to be convicted. Similarly, the same applies to every six Latinos born then one of them is likely to face a drug-related conviction in their lifetime CITATION Cha08 p 21 l 1033 (Chawin 21). This estimates suggest one thing, there exists racial disparities in our justice system the same extends to the female counterparts where though its substantiality is less, it still does remain prevalent.
Florida together with twenty three states of the U.S has in place laws that rap out criminal sanctions on the use of marijuana specifically for medicinal purposes. Each specific state has its clearly outlined eligibility requirements for legal use of marijuana to be approved in most cases where people gain accessibility through medical dispensaries while others are allowed to cultivate it in their homes. On the other hand, despite the recognition of medical marijuana benefits, several states still do not allow the use of medical marijuana on the offset of policies and federal laws. For individuals to qualify for marijuana use, a doctor’s certification cum recommendation is required stipulating the patient’s unique medical condition to warrant use of marijuana as a medicinal option. Despite the fact that some states allow the use of marijuana, the laws further spells out that the drug should not be smoked or ingested in public.
The drug abuse campaign has been on the forefront of the agenda of many states across the United States. On one hand we see stringent and very harsh criminal penalties making the drug campaign a success In US perhaps as a result of the death penalty for drug trafficking or perhaps the nation’s moral societal background. On the other hand, we have states, strangely grappling to keep up their war against drugs simply because of stringent and harsh criminal laws for possession and trafficking of drugs. For them it has been an exhilarating task to overcome the drug menace and their laws have not helped even in the slightest ways to reduce the drug problem in the United States but instead, there prisons are now overcrowded because of the same laws meant to establish their nation as drug intolerant. California is by far in its own league, it has made tremendous steps in their fight against drug abuse; is it because marijuana use is legal? What actually makes their strategy tick is the fact that they have allowed the sale of cannabis only minimal quantities while on the other hand offering their citizens a rehabilitative process for them to recover from addiction.
Chawin, Caroline. “Racial Biasness in The Justice system.” The Times (2008): 14=34.
Dorsey, L. Tina and Priscilla Middleton. Crime and Drug Facts. Bureau of Justice Statistics , 2010.
Ferner, Matt. “Florida’s Amendment 2 Fails, Dashing Hopes Of Statewide Medical Marijuana.” November 2014. Huffingpost. December 2014 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/04/florida-amendment-2-fails_n_6032422.html>.
Nohlgren, Stephen. “Florida voters just say no to medical marijuana.” 4 November 2014. Miami Herald. December 2014 <http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article3567085.html>.