Nan Rich of Weston, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, said Friday she supports a proposed ballot initiative that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Florida.

“I’ve seen the research, I’ve studied the issue, and I’ve met with patients who clearly benefit and desperately need medically prescribed cannabis,” Rich said in a statement.

She said Florida should join the 19 states and District of Columbia, which already allow medical marijuana to be dispensed on a doctor’s order. “That’s why I’m signing the petition to get this important measure on the ballot in 2014 and I’m calling on all of my friends and supporters to do the same.  There is simply no reason patients should suffer when an effective, safe, and organic remedy is readily available.”

There’s much more than medicine to the marijuana question.

The initiative is getting much of its support from John Morgan, the lawyer associated with former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to announce Monday he’s a candidate for the Democratic nomination to regain his old job, which he held from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican.

Political analysts see the ballot question on medical marijuana as a way to attract young people and liberal voters to the polls in 2014 – when either Rich or Crist would be on the ballot. Midterm elections, between presidential contests, generally see a major falloff in young and Democratic-leaning voters, so something that encourages them to get to the polls could help the Democratic candidate against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican facing her own re-election race next year, and the top Republicans in the Florida Legislature, are trying to block the referendum question from the November 2014 ballot.

Rich, in her statement, said she sees benefits to the medical use of marijuana, which can help people with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder, hepatitis C and  HIV/AIDS.  It has also been shown to significantly reduce the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy. Its use is supported by the American College of Physicians, American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association.