(Miami Beach, FL) - On Thursday, December 17th, 2015 the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions petition. The final hurdle to making the 2016 ballot will be gathering enough valid signatures- 683,149. At the time of the Supreme Court ruling, 400,032 petitions had been validated. With 900,000 gathered, United for Care is confident they will garner enough valid signatures to make the 2016 ballot.
This ruling comes as no surprise to United for Care, the organization spearheading the effort to make the 2016 ballot.
Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager, said, "The unanimous decision by the Florida Supreme Court to approve the new medical marijuana constitutional amendment is a huge victory for hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering Floridians who could benefit from the passage of such a law. While we still must collect the required number of petitions before officially being placed on the 2016 ballot, we are confident that we will and that Florida voters will approve this amendment in the general election. In 2014, four of seven Supreme Court justices approved our ballot language and 58% of Floridians voted "yes"; this time, all seven justices approved our language and we feel strongly that well over the required 60% of Floridians will vote "yes" for a comprehensive and compassionate medical marijuana law."
United for Care's chairman, John Morgan, stated, "This is a huge victory for Florida. We will win next November. Compassion is coming!"
ELECTED OFFICIALS PROPOSE EXPANSION ON FAILING MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW; UNITED FOR CARE SAYS PROPOSAL IS IRRELEVANT, AMENDMENT STILL NEEDED
(Miami Beach, FL) – Today, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-4) and Senator Rob Bradley (R-7) filed a bill expanding on the already existing SB 1030 or “Charlotte’s Web” law. This new proposal would allow for marijuana with higher levels of THC, which the current law does not.
Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager at United for Care, said, “The voters of Florida – and specifically,sick and suffering Floridians who are so desperate for medical marijuana – have no reason to trust the legislature to handle this effectively, and every reason NOT to. It’s great that our legislature is finally acknowledging that THC has medicinal value, but even if they manage to pass this bill – which we have no reason to believe they will – it doesn’t help enough people to obviate the need for a constitutional amendment.”
Charlotte’s Web Law is still not implemented even though the law was passed two years ago, and the medicine was supposed to be available to qualified patients in January 2015.
In announcing today’s legislation, Sen. Bradley was quoted as saying, “We need to make sure we do it right. If we just turn it over to a constitutional amendment, it will be taking a sledgehammer to an issue rather than a surgeon’s scalpel.”
Pollara stated, in reaction, “A sledgehammer over the head may in fact be the only way for Floridians to have their voices heard by the largely deaf ears of Tallahassee politicians, who despite valiant efforts by courageous, thoughtful members like Sens. Bradley and Brandes and Reps. Gaetz, Steube and Edwards, have simply failed to enact meaningful laws on this issue.”
(Miami, FL) – According to the Division of Elections website 73, 713 petitions have been verified. That’s 5,000 over the required amount to trigger the Supreme Court review.
Campaign Manager, Ben Pollara stated, “We are thrilled at this timely accomplishment. This is the first major milestone to bringing medical marijuana before the Florida voters in November 2016. In the next election, voters will succeed where their elected have failed them, and pass a comprehensive, compassionate medical marijuana law to serve the hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering people who are desperate for relief in our state. Without our volunteer efforts we would not be so well positioned to make the ballot in December.”
In order to be placed on the ballot United for Care needs the Supreme Court approval and to collect 683,149 valid petitions by Feb 1, 2016. Last election, ballot placement was not approved for the dedicated team until the final hour.
Campaign Chairman, John Morgan, stated, “Compassion is coming in 2016! Tallahassee is broken, but I have faith in the people of Florida. We will win and hundreds of thousands will benefit as a result.”
The state of Florida has made a mess out of its initial foray into medical marijuana, giving voters another reason to take the issue into their own hands.
State lawmakers last year legalized the use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. The marijuana is administered as an oil or vapor, and has shown promise in treating conditions such as epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer.Read more
(Miami, FL,) - Yesterday, August 13, 2015, House Rep Greg Steube (R – district 73) filed a bill (HB 63) in an effort to expand SB 1030, the medical marijuana bill dubbed as “Charlottes Web law”.
“Representative Steube's efforts on behalf of sick and suffering Floridians continues to be courageous, like this bill to try and expand upon a broken law, which has not taken effect since its approval over a year ago. But the fact is, low-THC cannabis is still not enough for the vast majority of very sick and suffering people in our state. Even putting that aside, neither I nor anyone should have any faith that the politicians in leadership in Tallahassee will give Rep. Steube's legislation the basic respect of a hearing, much less a vote, just as they failed to do with the bill he filed last session”, said Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager of United for Care.
Like SB 1030, HB 63 is for low-THC marijuana only. Mr. Pollara continued by saying, “Last year 58% of voters voted 'yes' for a sensible, comprehensive medical marijuana law. Tallahassee saw this, and has failed to give their constituents what they want. We are pushing so very hard to collect the required signatures to place medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot so that Florida voters can once again vote on what our politicians in the state capital refuse to.”
By Dan Sweeney - The second push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is moving full steam ahead, with more than 100,000 signed petitions presented to the state on Wednesday.
"This is a massive head start over the previous campaign, which started late," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care, the organization behind the medical marijuana amendment. "If we can sustain this pace, we should ensure our place on the ballot before the holidays."Read more
LEGISLATURE STOPS PROGRESS OF AN ALREADY NARROW MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL
(Tallahassee, FL) – This morning the Senate Rules Committee met to hear SB 7066, a low-THC medical marijuana law and had the opportunity to vote on several amendments to expand this narrow law. Yet, today’s vote was another disheartening demonstration of how tone deaf the politicians in Tallahassee remain.
“For a fleeting moment today, it appeared as if Senate had voted to walk back the arbitrary rules on who could open a medical marijuana business in Florida, but then with the roll call it failed at a 6-6 vote”, stated Dan Rogers, Director of Legislative Affairs. He continued to say, “I just feel terrible at the injustice against the small farmers, which are mostly minorities, who will not be able to participate in this market”.
Howard Gunn, President of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, was present to lobby for the decrease in how many years a business had to be active in order to apply for a production license. “I said my piece and that’s all I can really do at this point in time” he said. Mr. Gunn plans to be present once the bill is scheduled for a floor hearing.
“Florida asked for a comprehensive medical marijuana law – and the legislature denied their will. Again today, the Black Farmers asked for a change in the narrow law on the books that would actually allow them an opportunity to grow a business. They too were denied.”, said Executive Director of Florida for Care, Ben Pollara.
Black Farmers Association and Florida for Care Continue Fight for Inclusion of Minorities in SB 7066
SB 7066 is the low THC medical marijuana bill filed by Senator Bradley, R-District 7 which has a requirement that nurseries that have been in business for at least thirty years are the only ones that can apply for a license to grow and process the medicine. Earlier this week Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, who sponsored the amendment last year that allowed the requirements stated, “I thought the ones who’ve been here the longest should be the first in line”.
This requirement makes it impossible for black farmers to even apply for one in the five highly sought after license- However, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association is not going to sit idly by while this bill is pushed through committees.
Last week during the Health Policy Committee meeting members from the association stood lobbying against the requirement stating it’s injustices to not only the black farmer, but the small farmers in Florida. Howard Gunn, an Ocala farmer and President of the Florida Black Farmers Association said, “We basically would love to get into this business. We see the profitability. We think the black farmers can somehow make a better living”
An Amendment to SB 7066 has been filed that will change the requirement. The Amendment sponsored by Minority Leader, Senator Joyner of District 19, should it pass, will allow nurseries who have been in business for five consecutive years to apply for one of the highly sought after licenses.
Tomorrow the Rules Committee will meet and vote on the amendment to change the requirement from thirty years to five. Florida for Care is hopeful this egregious requirement will no longer exist. “When you see such a large group of people being marginalized, it’s much easier to understand the injustice of this rule”, said Dan Rogers, Director of Legislative Affairs, “and let’s face it, no one wants to be called racist. That’s what this requirement is. It is racist- it may not have been intentional- but there’s no denying the reality.”
The Black Farmers Agriculturalists Association is not going to rely on hope. They will be at the Rules Committee tomorrow morning to once again lobby for their right to apply for a license. “5 years will be a lot better than 30, but I have constituents with me that believe there should not be any restrictions.” Stated Howard Gunn. In regards to the overall satus of the bill he said, “We are hopeful the right decision will be made that will help all people and not just some people. We understand it’s been a long time coming for patients.”
“Florida for Care is about creating a free and robust market- passing this amendment will bring us closer to that goal.” said Ben Pollara, Executive Director of Florida for Care.
Medical Necessity Established in Broward County Court; Jury Rules Medical Marijuana Patient “Not Guilty” on all Counts
(Miami Beach, FL) - Today a jury in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, Florida ruled that Ft. Lauderdale resident, Jesse Teplicki, was “not guilty” on all criminal charges surrounding his medical use of marijuana for the treatment of his chronic anorexia. Michael C. Minardi, partner at the Kelley Kronenberg law firm and longtime medical marijuana advocate, successfully argued Mr. Teplicki’s medical necessity defense in front of a jury of his peers. Today’s verdict is groundbreaking in that it is the first time that the “medical necessity” defense was successfully argued in a jury trial, since Florida courts established the defense over 20 years ago.
Florida for Care Executive Director, Ben Pollara, reacted to the verdict with elation, “This verdict that Mr. Minardi won for Jesse Teplicki is a game changer on the eve of the start of the 2015 legislative session. Legislative leaders in Tallahassee now have to look at medical marijuana through the lens of this precedent established by a Florida jury, in addition to the 58% of Floridians who voted for medical marijuana at the polls last November.”
He continued, “the medical use of marijuana is no longer solely a political issue with wide popular support, it is legal precedent in Florida courts. This ruling should be a message to the legislature that they should act this session on establishing a medical marijuana system in our state so that sick and suffering Floridians don’t have to fight in court for the right to use the medicine recommended by their doctors, as Mr. Teplicki did today.”
Florida for Care legislative director, Dan Rogers, said the following about the impact this ruling could have on pending legislation in Tallahassee, “What was established today was not just medical necessity, but the principle that this is a determination best left to a doctor. Mr. Teplicki would still have had to fight for his rights in court under the House version of the pending legislation in Tallahassee. This case demonstrates the argument we have been making: a law that only includes patients suffering with one of a defined list of diseases as eligible for medical marijuana is simply not an effective law. Doctors must be able to recommend marijuana for debilitating symptoms as well.”
This verdict was handed down less than 24 hours before the beginning of the 2015 legislative session in Florida. Currently, bills have been filed in both chambers of the Florida Legislature to allow the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. Jesse Teplicki would only qualify for the medical use of marijuana under SB 528, filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes.
Florida for Care will advocate throughout this legislative session for the passage of a law, like SB 528, that would help sick and suffering Floridians, without them having to fight for their liberty in court.
Florida for Care will spearhead legislation in March of 2015 in Tallahassee, setting the standard for what the state’s medical cannabis system should look like and how it can function most effectively. Such a system must balance three core principles: first, safe, affordable patient access; second, a tightly controlled state regulatory structure; and third, a robust, free market commercial enterprise.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please call Vanessa Moffatt at 954-529-7145 or email her at email@example.com.
Florida for Care Bringing Nation’s Leading Drug Reformer
(Miami, FL) Florida for Care is hosting their first policy conference of 2015 this week. On Friday, February 27, 2015 they will bring Sheriffs, legislators, County Commissioners, advocates, medical professionals and business people together to discuss medical marijuana in Florida. Among those speaking at the conference will be Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance. “We are thrilled to have Ethan back. I suspect he’ll shed light on where Florida goes from here.” Stated Ben Pollara, Executive Director of Florida for Care.
Ethan Nadelmann was present during FFC’s last conference where he touched on Jamaica’s state of affairs in regards to medical marijuana- just over a month later Jamaica, as he predicted, decriminalized marijuana clearing the way for safe, legal medical marijuana. He also told guests of the last conference, “Building this industry isn’t just good for business, it’s the right thing to do”.
In addition to Ethan’s Afternoon Keynote speech, there will be panels titled Best Business Practices and Government Regulations.
The Policy conference is being held at The Westin Colonnade of Coral Gables. The Conference is from 8am to 3pm on Friday, February 27 with a social networking event the evening before from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Registration is required to join the conference.
For more information on the event or how to become a member email Eric Stevens, Executive Deputy Director, at Eric@floridaforcare