Without Enough Signatures, Medical Marijuana Petition Headed for Failure

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: December 11, 2013 3:55 AM


Medical Marijuana

Support for medical marijuana may be high in the Sunshine State, but that’s not going to solve People United For Medical Marijuana’s big problem of getting over 680,000 petition signatures for a constitutional amendment by Feb. 1.

People United has figured it needs around 400,000 more petition signatures to get medical marijuana on the ballot next year, but the clock is ticking and time is running out for the medical marijuana initiative.

“It's a big lift. We don't have a lot of give,'' Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, a campaign run by People United, said last week to Steven Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times.

High-profile trial lawyer John Morgan has been an avid crusader for the medical marijuana initiative, funneling lots of his own cash to try to get petition signatures from across the state.

Morgan’s taken to the radio, pleading with Floridians to join his “Army of Angels” to get medical marijuana on the ballot in 2014. The ads have been in play for months over Florida airwaves.

According to the Times, Morgan said Monday he may double the $1 million he has already spent, but People United still might fail to collect enough signatures in time.

'It's really out of my control,'' Morgan said. 'I'm ready to pay for the gasoline to go faster. The question is, can they go faster with the extra gasoline.''

Volunteers can collect some petitions, but paid workers are crucial to the majority of Florida amendment campaigns. Initially, the medical marijuana campaign held off payments, hoping that the Florida Supreme Court would quickly decide whether the ballot language meets constitutional muster.

But the Supreme Court didn’t end up hearing oral arguments from the attorney general and People United until last week, and has until April 1 to rule on the amendment.

During that time, the campaign lost valuable momentum, according to Morgan.

'If I don't get it on the ballot and look back, I am going to blame myself for suspending it when I did,” he said.

Florida law requires that 683,149 registered voters sign petitions to request a vote on the issue, but the campaign will probably need to submit more signatures -- around 900,000 to 950,000 -- because election officials can’t verify names and birth dates of the voters. Some people may even sign more than one petition. Those are thrown out, too.

Although People United technically has until Feb. 1 to gather all the petitions, county elections officials can slow the process down, taking up to 30 days to verify a voter’s signature. That means that any petitions submitted after early January may not even count toward the total number.

United for Care said it had collected about 500,000 petitions as of last week, but the Florida Division of Elections listed less than half -- 140,933 -- as verified.

John Morgan is getting antsy over the possibility that the initiative won’t pass. He took to Twitter on Tuesday, begging followers to sign the petition.

“I need your help! Time is running out! RETWEET & share this with your friends! Sign the#MedicalMarijuana petition athttp://UnitedForCare.org/morgan,“ read the tweet.

The initiative has already been met with resistance from Florida lawmakers, who have expressed concerns over the ballot language. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford worried that the ballot initiative would lead to "marijuana shops on every street corner" and ultimately become abused in the Sunshine State. 

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

Comments (28)

11:44PM DEC 19TH 2013
The World is our deciding factor to the petition of Medical Marijuana to be put on the ballot for next year. Will we be able to succeed; the whole defense behind this on my view of things is the medical needs. John Morgan from Morgan and Morgan law firm has set up a petition and has put out his own cash to push this threw. He has made ads and radio appearances to make this happen. His petition is named ‘Army of Angels’ (United for Care, 2013). The health of a lot of people could benefit from this. Some are: relief from nausea and appetite loss, reduction of intraocular (within the eye) pressure, reduction of muscle spasms and chronic pain. It helps with the treatments in conditions like: AIDS, Hepatitis C, Glaucoma, Cancer, Multiple sclerosis, Epilepsy, and chronic pain (United for Care, 2013). There are also a wide variety of people defending this including: The American College of Physicians, Institute of Medicine, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, American Medical Student Association, and the state medical societies of New York, Rhode Island and California (United for Care 2013). Let’s make this happen for the ill they deserve to be happy. Setting aside the fact that there will be some that will abuse the fact but I feel if it helps as studies have shown this should be a big factor on a lot of people’s lives.
11:19PM DEC 16TH 2013
Thank you so much John Morgan! I honestly think it's unconstitutional that smoking pot is illegal. I appreciate what you are doing SO much, and I wish more high profile people would take a stand like you have.
10:45PM DEC 16TH 2013
I hope this pulls through
joni hammers
7:26PM DEC 16TH 2013
there is proof that medical marijuana cures heals it is a fact
Lorie Renker Floener
4:21PM DEC 16TH 2013
My Story... I am 54 in November. I raised 2 great kids and paid off a mortgage. Disabled I now live on $700. a month.I have been ill since birth, doctor's told my parent I may not live when born. I have been beating odds and am a miracle to doctor's I am alive. I have a connective tissue break down from being of slightly different than others, by a unexplained chromosome difference than normal people, hahaha ~ Marfan Syndrome
Any way I had a ignorant Doctor cut me open in front take out my organs and put in cadaver bones to replace vertebra and man made disc's, put the organs back and sewed me up, turned me over and put titanium caging from L4 to S1. The Marfan foundation said he should have never done more than fix the broken bone in my spine, I had been walking around with a broken back for 8 months before it was fixed. The Marfan Foundation found out what he did and Black listed him from ever touching another Marfan. I have been a lot worse because the surgen did not realize I was in an advanced degeneration of Marfan's and my connective tissue is like an 80 year old at 54(On Nov. 27th). Includes skin, bones organs, all connective tissue. I had my appendix removed in childhood, 1/2 of my thyroid removed in 1998, and the spine surgery April 2011. I am allergic to Morphine, codeine, & Fentanyl Fun right? Even with Hospice, My Doctor and Medicatd calling, I could not get my pain medication for the last 11 months & suffer daily. Here is most of the rest of my story below. Medicaid won't even fix teeth. If it was $180. to fix a tooth they would not pay for fixing them, but they paid $375. for emergency extractions. I have no molars left on the bottom from this. They won't help with new teeth. This all seems unreal...
wow thanks, reading all that is a caring thing in it's self.
People look at me, ( I know it is a blessing that God helps pull me up, daily, hourly, by the minute some days ) Some people do not believe I am sick, because attitude is everything. This is why I made collective souls group, on Facebook. It is where I vent, share, and some-days I am posting what I need at the time. I call it fake it till you make it, or you know to act in love not fear, so you can choose love for every answer. Helping lifecoach others as I can, to over 150 others now. Thank God for keeping my mind occupied.
A smart man, (Patch Adams wrote me a letter) & told me that my spirit, and enduring love of life/nature with my faith & sense of humor, were my strength. Hold on to them and do not give up. That was 15 years ago. God knows, it is very empowering to read that letter. I Am alive by grace, hoping for Medical Cannabis Florida is dropping the ball on my care. I am trying to tell about myself. Hoping it will help others. I was born with a genetic disorder called Marfan Syndrome. I have intestine issues from weak connective tissue associated with Marfan Syndrome. I am in the final break down of all my connective tissue. I only have half of my bone density left. My calcium is normal. Marfan Syndrome effect all connective tissue. It even affects organs. My aorta is enlarged and I have far outlived my life expectancy with my degree of the illness, some die before adulthood. I have advanced osteoarthritis in the 4th stage. I have had intestine pain from childhood. Try not to eat unless it is good for me. Then again I am not the average person. I taught myself to slow the Marfan Syndrome . I also have Lupus, Fibro, Epstein Barr and Auto-immune neuropathy. Crazy Huh, I was sick since birth, Many times with tonsillitis, I had rheumatic fever, German Measles, and something called Erythema nodosum. My Doctor said he never uses the word normal with me, lol I had over 70 unidentified masses and cysts in my breasts 2 surgeons wanted the removed.Over 15 procedures in 5 years. Medicaid through me out of the hospital and would not cover it. I am still alive, no thanks to Medicaid-Medi pass. Please do not let this happen to you or those you love. Florida does not take care of SSI people only SSD. I have not even been able to get my prescribed pain medication in Florida, even with my Doctor and Medicaid calling the Pharmacy for me, 7 out of the last year. I am in horrific pain daily hoping soon Florida gives me the quality care I need, every one deserves quality care. Florida does not enforce The American's Disabilities Act. They are no advocate's.This is only some of many issue's I am dealing with. I DESERVE A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE NOW
Mr. Julius B. Carey
3:12PM DEC 16TH 2013
This Republican commenter says to "REMOVE ALL REPUBLICANS," against medicinal reefer during the '14 elections whether this goes through or not. And most especially that "stupid, stupid, so-called Attorney General Bondi." And remove the (enemy) lesser people against it too. They be the ones with D's after their names...
2:37PM DEC 16TH 2013
this should be done electronically you have a better chance to get that number and if they can except taxes that way why not signatures
bret edwards
6:42PM DEC 12TH 2013
I picked up my packet yesterday and I'm on the hunt your interview with Bubba this morning was a big help. For the people!!!
bret edwards
6:42PM DEC 12TH 2013
I picked up my packet yesterday and I'm on the hunt your interview with Bubba this morning was a big help. For the people!!!
bret edwards
6:42PM DEC 12TH 2013
I picked up my packet yesterday and I'm on the hunt your interview with Bubba this morning was a big help. For the people!!!
6:28PM DEC 11TH 2013
Hey, if your going to support a cause like "Medical Marijuana" you better not hedge. These young people did when I played the "big bad pharma" argument. They took the bait because they were mind numbing liberal college students. I believe if they were "libertarians" it would be an enlightened conversation.
Mark a Goodwin
2:46PM DEC 11TH 2013
I was a Private Yacht Captain! I fell into the boat! Drs gave me opioids to mask my pain! Not knowing how bad I was injured I worked for 9 months injured!? My hip was cracked and I tore my left Labrum from my hip!! My surgeries started and more Opoids!! Hip replacement more opioids !!! Not one dr sat down and talked to me about opioid dependency!!!! I never would have taken that evil drug knowing how sick I was when I. Tried to stop taking it! I ended up in the ICU unit at north side hospital! Within hrs. Of full cardiac arrest!! I've lost 3 friends to OxyContin !! I gutted it out and been off of it for 2 yrs now And still suffer from the sickness!! Marijuana is a safe and effective way to treat chronic pain. And illeness!! And if u stop smoking it for a couple days u don't feel like ur goin DIE! Or even walk!! So u non injured! Pain. Free people don't know a damn. Thing about Pain! Or withdrawals!! So keep drinking ur alachol and getting DUIs,,, and know this marijuana works! There's no. One robbing pharmacyies ! With shot guns and thjreating to kill the pharmacist!!!! For marijuana!! There's no one killing them selfs cause they're so. Sick!! Punish these damn crocked greedy pain pill pushing Drs!! And give it a probational period!! Crime will go down! People will not be killing. Themselves! Cause they didn't smoke on time!!!! So if ur hard headed enough to think Opoids. R the way!! Do us all a favor! Run ur car into a tree texting!! Get on opioids !!! And ur probably one of those nut less people that can't stop taking. Opioids !! And I'll read about u jumping off the skyway. Bridge cause ur so sick! From that crap the drs give u!
I'm the biggest hater of Opoids! Almost. Ruined my life! I donate my evenings giving advice to people addicted to Opoids?! Drs lawyers! CEOs ect!? I've seen some of tampa bay's leaders in my meetings asking for support!! So if u think u know!! Bring it! Opioids kill!! Big manufactures should pay! They should educate u before u start what it's goin to do to u when u want to stop!!! There's not one case!!! Out of the 200 and counting jumping off the Skyway Bridge!! Cause he smoked pot or. Was out?!! Look how. Many of those 200 had prescription for. Opioids and ended there life from some crocked Dr given them that crap!! If U think u know anything!! You have never witnessed someone. Trying to stop takin it!! Marijuana works!! And never makes u kill ur self? Or. Rob pharmacies with shot guns!!! So trim ur gray hair and go to the bar get drunk!! Ur day is comin!! I'll pray thhat no more people suffer and can legally smoke eat marijuana!! OxyContin kills!!! Pot doesn't make people hang them selves!! It's 2013!! Pull ur heads out of ur ass! Hopefully the next door knock u get isn't from some opioid dependent person needing. To rob u to get his next. Fix!!
Justin Hale
8:21PM DEC 12TH 2013
Best of Luck to you.
5:09PM DEC 12TH 2013
I fully and totally agree
3:13PM DEC 12TH 2013
no it doesn't...nice try dude. Medi Jane = Big Greed; legalize it completely ...or stuff it. No strings attached on growing, smoking, sale, hemp...all of it...or no go. JMorgan and Two Step Chuck Crist can goto straight to hades.
1:15PM DEC 11TH 2013
Thought you'd like to see this
12:09PM DEC 11TH 2013
I spoke to three young people who wanted me to sign the petition and I told them that I have three reasons why I won't. Number one, it will be hard to regulate no matter what the petition says. Number two, more people will become addicted and we need more addicted people right? The third reason is what got them to agree with me and that was that the Big Bad Pharmaceutical Companies will make millions maybe even billions off of people. The 1% I said.

People do need to think about the pros and cons before signing it!
4:07PM DEC 16TH 2013
It's not addictive
4:24PM DEC 14TH 2013
any one for little money can buys some medical grade seed and some root hormone and clone a plantation with many strains to choose from. Its not rocket science.
Justin Hale
8:25PM DEC 12TH 2013
So do You endorse HomeGrowing ,or do you support the drug cartels?
1:46PM DEC 11TH 2013
"The third reason is what got them to agree with me and that was that the Big Bad Pharmaceutical Companies will make millions maybe even billions off of people."

That's what will happen if we don't legalize the use of it in it's natural form. The "big bad" pharmaceutical companies would much prefer to keep it illegal so they can make and then patent a drug made from the active ingredient.
They're actually already working on it. If that happens, that's when we have to worry about it being addictive, more harmful and with a higher potential of abuse.
Not to mention more costly for the people who need it.
Dean Franklin
5:15PM DEC 11TH 2013
Your explanation has probably confused a few people, LDouglas. I believe you are trying to say we should be able to use natural marijuana, not big pharma marisol. The petitition is for the natural product. Perscribed by a doctor, lovingly grow and used in which ever way you choose, rtmoked, eaten, oil. etc. Please sign it. Thanx
7:33AM DEC 13TH 2013
That is what I was saying Dean. And I have signed it.
12:49PM DEC 11TH 2013
I don't buy your third argument. You can grow it in your backyard.
Justin Hale
8:35PM DEC 12TH 2013
Ah,but then you would be a Criminal. Don't you understand, you must buy it,we can't have radicles out their taking care of their own, you know.
Dean Franklin
9:48AM DEC 11TH 2013
I hope everybody signs the petition. Although, the lies and distortions out of Tally have had an effect. There has been a medical marijuana bill for the last few sessions, that never even got a hearing. I think this is going to cost elected officials their jobs. Lies matter. Not doing the will of the majority of the citizens matters.
Drew Bright
4:46PM DEC 11TH 2013
I agree, Dean, but I think it goes further, we need a War Crimes Trial for Prohibitionists who continue lying about the safest, most healthful plant on earth. A new Nuremberg for the hateful, Puritanically-blind politicians who enslave one class of people over a plant, so that another class of people can make huge profits? A judgement day is coming...
Dean Franklin
5:10PM DEC 11TH 2013
Naw Drew. I would like to take away their addictive nicotine, booze and happy pills for a few days. I take opiates and muscle relaxers and hate them, but, using MM would ease those aches, and I could not die fro m an OD. Yet, under current law, if I use MM, I can lose my scripts and go to jail. Even though Fl already has a MM defense. Just try to get a doctor to agree, so he loses his practice.

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