United For Care just met its first legal hurdle to put medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.
United For Care just met its first legal hurdle to put medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.

100,000 Medical Marijuana Petitions Sent to Florida Supreme Court

Last November, 58 percent of Florida voters supported Amendment 2, which would have made medical marijuana legal in Florida. Even though the majority of voters were in favor of the amendment, it wasn't enough to pass. The vote was just two points shy of the 60 percent threshold.

But the loss didn't dissuade United For Care, the group behind the push. In January, the group submitted a new constitutional amendment. They spent the last seven months gathering petition signatures. Today, Ben Pollara, the group's campaign manager, announced that the group is sending 100,000 (almost 30,000 more than necessary) signatures to the Supreme Court to review the language. 

It would mark the first step in putting a medical marijuana amendment on the 2016 ballot. Since it is a presidential election, Pollara is confident that the second time's the charm.

"We still have the same really tough bar to climb — the 60 percent threshold. We almost made it last time. Given the fact that a lot more people will be voting in the election, we should comfortably meet and reach that," Pollara tells New Times

The new proposed amendment practically mirrors the one from last year. The new language, however, requires doctors to certify that their patients are suffering from a debilitating illness. Then the state would issue ID cards. Patients could not grow marijuana in their homes, but would have to frequent treatment centers, licensed to grown and sell medical marijuana. 

If the Supreme Court approves the language, United For Care would have to send 600,000 more signatures to the Florida Division of Elections by the February 1, 2016, deadline. Once submitted and verified, the amendment would move back to the Supreme Court, where the amendment's constitutionality will be determined.

"It was a nerve-racking three or five days. We had all the signatures in by the deadline but ultimately didn't know what the court would say," Pollara recalls from last year's process.

Pollara expects to know by April or May whether the amendment will appear on the ballot. And, again, he's confident.

"It should not require the level of deep thought and debate as it did last time. This is a question that has been asked and answered," Pollara says. "The majority of Floridians want medical marijuana."

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