Sheriff

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel at the opening of Charlie Crist's campaign office in Plantation on April 19, 2014. Israel said he isn't endorsing either Crist or Nan Rich for the Democratic nomination. (Anthony Man / Sun Sentinel / April 19, 2014)

Original post | 1:37 p.m. April 23

Updated | 10:56 a.m. April 24

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is declining to take a position on the referendum to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, something that polls show is overwhelmingly popular with voters of both parties.

He said he’ll go along with whatever the voters decide. “My position is: I’m an executive. I’m with the executive branch of government. I’m not a legislator. I believe the whole issue should go to the people. I think the people get it right more times than we do, and whatever the people do, we’ll enforce those laws,” he said in a brief interview. “I think this is something that’s left to the people of the state of Florida.”


Pictures: Floatopia Miami 2014

He also said he doesn’t know if he’ll vote for or against the measure on Nov. 4. “Personally. I don’t know. I may or may not. I may or may not.”

The sheriff called the inquiry about his position a "great, great, great question."

Israel’s position puts him at odds with the majority of Florida sheriffs.

Their association voted earlier this year to oppose the referendum. Israel said he abstained from voting.

He said he wouldn’t get involved in his association’s education campaign, which is educating people about what the organization sees as the evils of legalizing medical marijuana.

The sheriffs association website says “legalizing marijuana will jeopardize public safety.”

“Florida’s Sheriffs believe that approving broad exceptions to current state and federal law that would allow doctors to authorize use of marijuana for virtually any reason with little regulation will hurt children and families and lead to a lower quality of life for all. The dangers of marijuana have been well documented in recent years with increased crime and traffic accidents in states that have passed legislation legalizing marijuana,” the website says.

Raymer Maguire, South Florida coordinator for United for Care: People United for Medical Marijuana, said in a recent interview that “the residents in Broward really seem to understand this is about the patients. This is about sick and suffering Floridians who have tried pharmaceuticals and found it doesn’t always work.”