As Florida hashes out the business end of law to allow the cultivation and distribution of non-intoxicating cannabis oil for epilepsy patients, organizers with United for Care (the group whose initiative to legalize medical marijuana in 2014 failed by just a few percentage points) recently announced plans to reintroduce the proposed constitutional amendment in hopes of earning a spot on the ballot in the 2016 election.
According to reports, attorney John Morgan has already recruited volunteers to begin working on passing a measure that would allow voters across the state to determine whether Florida should operate a medical marijuana program. Although the strength behind the group’s latest measure could easily surpass their previous effort, organizers say it will take millions of dollars in campaign contributions to ensure its passage – a potential problem considering the group has only raised about $50,000.
This lack of campaign finance would be a burden to some troops, but United for Care has several feathers in its cap that the average marijuana advocacy organization does not. The group still has some revenue sitting in the coffers from the 2014 push and many expect that their leading man, John Morgan, will do as he did last year and pour several million dollars of his personal finances into the effort.
Therefore, it’s not insufficient capital that has organizers stressed about making another bold attempt to bring medical marijuana to the Sunshine State – it’s the hoops they must jump through in order to even get a shot.
Before United for Care can embark on an aggressive signature collecting campaign to get on the ballot, they must first finish assembling some 100,000 signatures to afford a new review by the Florida Supreme Court. All ballot initiatives must go through this process before they are allowed to proceed with a campaign.
If the language gets approved, the group would then shell out several million dollars to hire a legion of professional signature seekers and send them on a mission to collect the remaining 600,000 names needed to put the issue to the voters in the next presidential election.
The goal, of course, is to run a fiercer campaign in 2016 than the group did last year, which resulted in 58 percent of the voters casting a favorable ballot for the initiative – just 2 points shy of winning approval. In Florida, a ballot measure must resonate 60 percent voter support in order to become law.
Some amendments to the language of last year’s proposal have been made in an effort to push it into campaign mode without much resistance. Two specific portions of the initiative have been carefully revised: the word “certain” has been changed to “debilitating” when discussing qualified medical conditions. Also, the latest draft says that all minors must receive written permission from a parent before receiving a recommendation for medical marijuana from a doctor.
Unfortunately, however, passing the second coming of this proposed constitutional amendment will not be an easy fight. Opposing forces are lurching about, specifically those funded by Las Vegas anti-pot crusader Sheldon Adelson, who donated $2.5 million in 2014 to sink Amendment 2.
Do you think Florida will pass medical cannabis in 2016? Share your thoughts in the comments.