Arising from the ashes of defeat in the 2014 election, a Florida cannabis coalition has emerged with a brand-new initiative aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in 2016. A report from The Miami Herald indicates that pot proponents filed a slightly amended proposal with the Secretary of State’s office earlier this week, and supporters are expected to begin collecting signatures as early as Monday.
Attorney John Morgan and his council of cannabis activists, United for Care, must now embark on a full-throttle mission to collect the required 683,149 signatures needed to claim a spot on the ballot in 2016. Morgan, who invested nearly $4 million of his personal finances into last year’s unsuccessful Amendment 2, recently told the Herald that his organization learned a great deal from the trials and tribulations of their last initiative, and they plan to use this experience to ensure a different result.
“Last time I did this, it was like a maze,” he said. “Well, I’ve been through it once. I know how to do this. We made a lot of mistakes and we won’t make them this time.”
To say Amendment 2 was a complete failure is not entirely accurate. After all, the measure did receive the approval of 58 percent of the voters, which was just two points shy of victory. Such a narrow defeat was all supporters needed to not only formulate a more concise plan for the rematch, but to also realize their efforts were not in vain. “The voters of Florida clearly want a medical marijuana law and we intend to pass one, whether in the Legislature this session or on the ballot in 2016,” United for Care campaign director Ben Pollara told the Tampa Bay Times.
The latest initiative comes with a few minor adjustments, which were made in hopes of calming the concerns about the 2014 amendment expressed by opposing forces. Unlike Amendment 2, the new proposal specifies that medical marijuana would only be provided for patients suffering from debilitating conditions, with state-licensed treatment facilities having exclusive permission to grow—no home cultivation would be allowed. In addition, parents would be required to consent to their children undergoing treatment with medicinal herb.
Of course, enemies of the initiative, like Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free Florida, have already reared their ugly head, arguing against the concept of developing medicine through the electoral process. “To create medicine through a ballot initiative in our state constitution we don’t think is a smart thing to do. Just the process itself we would object to,” she said.
Instead, Fay believes United for Care should put their campaign finances to work in the realm of marijuana research, so the cannabis plant can be developed into “real medicine.”
“Floridians deserve safe and effective medicine backed by scientific research. Sometimes that medicine is derived from specific compounds found in a plant. But never is medicine derived from smoking a crude weed,” she concluded.