Another win for supporters of marijuana legalization: On Tuesday, Florida’s Supreme Court guaranteed a spot on its November ballot to determine if marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes.
Advocates presented nearly 700,000 signatures necessary for the ballot question, but opponents challenged its language in court.
"This potential initiative has nothing whatsoever to do with medicine," said Calvina Fay, an anti-drug advocate. "It is not tightly restricted. It is wide-open. It would allow pretty much anybody to use to treat any condition whatsoever."
The language of the legislation specifies that medical marijuana can only be used to treat the symptoms of “debilitating” diseases — like cancer, AIDS and Parkinson's.
"The fact that morphine is addictive and even deadly does not keep it out of the hands of the suffering," said Moriah Barnhart, a supporter of medical marijuana. "The supposed fear of abuse by some can no longer justify the denial of its medicinal benefits to millions who are suffering."
Florida is the latest state considering the legalization of marijuana, medicinal or recreational. The District of Columbia along with 18 states currently allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. Colorado began allowing legal recreational use this month, and Washington state will begin allowing recreational sales in June.
But in Colorado, at least one business is having difficulty with respect to the legalization of recreational marijuana and employees potentially being high on the job.
On Monday, Colorado’s Supreme Court agreed to review the case of quadriplegic Brandon Coats, who was fired from his job after failing a drug test.
Though Coats says he was never impaired at work, the company argues his marijuana use is not covered under a law that protects an individual's rights outside the workplace.
No hearing date has been set yet.
In Washington state, marijuana legalization creates a different problem that will need to be addressed.
Driving under the influence of marijuana, like driving under the influence of alcohol, is illegal. But determining whether a person is impaired by weed is complicated because traces of marijuana remain in one's system long after use.
Figuring out how to deal with issues like these falls to the state’s Liquor Control Board. The group is tasked with writing up new rules regarding legal recreational pot.
President Obama, who has remained mostly silent on the issue, spoke to the New Yorker magazine about marijuana use last week.
“I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” he said.
“I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
Another topic in the federal and state marijuana conversation also involves the color green — money. It’s illegal for some banks to accept deposits, grant loans or offer lines of credit to people who operate marijuana dispensarys, even if the sale of pot is legal in their state.
“We’re in the process of working with colleagues at the Treasury Department to deal with this issue," Holder said. "You don’t want huge amounts of cash lying around. You want these businesses to use the bank system. We’ll be issuing regulations on this very soon.”
Holder explained that there's a public safety component to the issue because marijuana shops could potentially become targets of robberies.
"It is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”
This year, Colorado estimates combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales will come in close to $600 million. Tax revenue will amount to $70 million, of which about half will be used to build schools.
How will state law, revenue collection and law enforcement mesh with the federal code in states legalizing marijuana?
We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story.
The above panel was assembled for the broadcast of Inside Story to discuss.
For future hard-hitting conversations, find Al Jazeera America on your TV.