The petition to get medical marijuana back on the ballot for 2016 is quickly gaining momentum in Florida, with the People United for Medical Marijuana (United for Care) collecting over 220,000 valid signatures as of Thursday.
In order for the petition to legalize medical marijuana to get back on the ballot, United For Care must collect a little over 683,000 valid signatures.
United For Care’s constitutional amendment petition would allow for the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver. It would also prohibit physicians from being subject to criminal or civil liabilities under Florida law for issuing a prescription for medical marijuana.
Medical pot would only be allowed for use for those with “debilitating” medical conditions which would include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and for other conditions which a physician feels using medical marijuana would outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
This isn’t United For Care’s first time trying to put medial pot on voters’ radars. Last year, the group largely funded by Orlando lawyer John Morgan fought tooth and nail to get voters to approve the amendment, but it ultimately fell three points short of getting the 60 percent voter approval to be legalized in the Sunshine State.
Morgan sent out an email to supporters last week saying the group had already gathered over 500,000 signatures to date, which is about the halfway point for signatures. The signed petitions are then sent over to the various supervisors of elections where they are validated within 30 days.
“This is exciting news - and we are way ahead of where we were in 2013,” wrote Morgan.
“Make no mistake – I will do what I can to alleviate the pain of those suffering – and make sure those that are responsible for this delay feel pain politically,” he said in a separate statement.
United For Care isn’t the only organization trying to get marijuana back on the ballot. Another group, Floridians for Freedom, which is associated with Florida Cannabis Action Network (Florida CAN) is also pushing a petition that would legalize marijuana for everyone aged 21 and older, not just those with medical conditions.
That group, however, doesn’t have quite as many valid signatures to get its proposal on the ballot -- as of Thursday, the group had zero validated signatures.
In order for a ballot initiative to even be considered, any citizen-driven initiative must first gather 70,000 validated petitions to trigger a review from the state attorney general, who will read the amendment language and determine whether it meets requirements for clarity.
After the attorney general gives the stamp of approval, groups are required to collect 683,149 petitions to get the initiative on the ballot.
Reach Allison Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.