Herald Tribune

A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for voters to decide this fall whether Florida will join 20 other states in allowing the use of medical marijuana.

The 4-3 decision upheld the ballot language for the constitutional amendment, rejecting arguments from Attorney General Pam Bondi, legislative leaders and law enforcement officials who contended the proposal was misleading and, if approved by 60 percent of the voters, would lead to widespread marijuana use in the state.

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By a 7-5 vote, the committee approved a measure (SB 1504) limiting the ability of courts to knock constitutional amendments sponsored by the Legislature off the ballot, while also imposing new standards on citizen-initiative groups. That proposal would direct the Secretary of State to rewrite ballot summaries for legislative amendments if a court rules the language out of bounds; place new limits on who can gather petitions for citizen-initiative groups and bar petition gatherers from being paid according to the number of signatures they collect.

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During his more than eight years on the Sarasota County Commission, Jon Thaxton has consistently warned of the impact of overdevelopment on the region’s quality of life. But Thaxton’s quest for less development is not so strong that he would advocate what could be one of the most restrictive growth management measures ever. A group calling itself Hometown Democracy won approval for a ballot measure in 2010 that would amend the constitution to prevent any changes to a county’s land use plan without a countywide vote.