Government

Medical Marijuana Petition Nears 1 Million Signatures

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: January 8, 2014 3:55 AM
Medical Marijuana

As the clock ticks down to the Feb. 1 deadline, the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot in November has hit nearly 1 million signatures, according to Ben Pollara, the man running the People United for Medical Marijuana campaign, United For Care.

"We have collected nearly 1 million signatures as of this morning," Pollara told Sunshine State News on Tuesday.

The initiative needs 683,000 valid signatures to qualify for the fall ballot. The key word is "valid." Supporters of medical marijuana have until Feb. 1 to submit the 683,000 signatures.

With over a million signatures collected, backers of the initiative believe they can account for any signatures that are deemed invalid.

"We have a wonderful and committed group of supervisors of elections in the state who have given us confidence that all of our signatures will be counted and verified by the Feb. 1st deadline,” said Pollara, adding that United for Care has spent over $3 million on the petition drive.

According to the Florida Department of Elections, United for Care has already submitted 265,000 valid signatures, and the group says hundreds of thousands more are still being processed by county elections officials.

After the signatures are submitted and verified, the Florida Supreme Court will rule on whether the amendment for medical marijuana's ballot title and summary meet legal requirements.

In December, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments from People United and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. Bondi initially expressed concerns over the broad language of the proposed constitutional amendment, arguing that the ballot title and initiative are overall misleading to voters and hide the amendment’s “true scope and effect."

Bondi's concerns were backed up by House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, who both expressed concerns over the potential for “marijuana shops on every street corner” in the state.

People United dismissed those opposed to the initiative, saying they were twisting the truth and preventing those who need the drug from legally obtaining help.

“Any statement that the initiative would allow unfettered use of medical marijuana would itself be misleading to voters,” wrote People United’s lawyer, Jon Mills, last month.

If the initiative does make the ballot, polls indicate it would do well. Medical marijuana is widely supported in the Sunshine State, with 82 percent of voters in favor of allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical use if it is prescribed by a doctor.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to make a decision regarding the amendment before the beginning of April.



Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen. 

Comments (3)

knowa
8:46AM JAN 9TH 2014
Let Florida Vote. unitedforcare org
David Lane
11:43AM JAN 8TH 2014
Not too familiar with all the issues regarding medical marijuana. What about second hand smoke? If the people smoke in confined quarters or in apartment building where smoke can travel to other units will the second hand smoke cause sideeffects?
420
10:19AM JAN 8TH 2014
blaze it

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