Medical marijuana will be legally for sale next week, but it is not a time to celebrate or stop working.
While it is technically accurate medical marijuana will be "available" next week for purchase in Florida—due to some limited bills passed by the legislature—the reality is that all but a few who should have access (and would under Amendment 2) will still find themselves without it. The limitations and constraints of the laws are so great that very few doctors can currently recommend medical marijuana, and virtually no patients will actually be able to buy it.
Paraphrasing John Morgan... That's just f***ing stupid.
Meanwhile, our opponents are pouring money into their campaign to try to make it so these patients NEVER have access. (Fight back here.)
Amendment 2 remains the ONLY way to secure medical marijuana, with no fear of arrest or imprisonment, for the hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from a variety of serious, debilitating conditions and illnesses. It also provides a regulatory environment that will make sure doctors can legally recommend marijuana to their patients.
Current law, with an exception for terminally ill patients, allows solely for "low-THC Cannabis". The vast preponderance of science, medicine and anecdote say that THC, the chemical that gets a person "high", is also the component that brings much of the plant's medicinal benefits.
So yes, marijuana will be on sale next week in Florida. But few will qualify, fewer still will be able to find a doctor to make the order, and those few who can may not be helped by what they purchase.
If sick and suffering Floridians are ever to truly see relief through medical marijuana, voters must approve Amendment 2 this November.
- Ben Pollara
United for Care
United for Care is the largest organization advocating for the passage of Amendment 2, "Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions."
The organization's Campaign Manager, Ben Pollara, had this to say about the Senate's decision, "Today the Senate agonized over, before finally passing, SB 460, which supposedly expands the number of eligible medical marijuana patients in Florida. Unfortunately, because of the persistent ineptitude of the state legislature, there are presently zero eligible medical marijuana patients in the state. The bill's passage today is merely more lipstick on the pig that is Tallahassee's failed 'medical marijuana' law. Sick and suffering Floridians will only see relief by approving Amendment 2 in the November elections."
Public Policy Polling states, "It looks like there's a good chance the second time will be the charm when it comes to getting a medical marijuana initiative passed in Florida. 65% of voters say they'll vote for one this fall to only 28% who are opposed, passing the 60% threshold with some breathing room. There's bipartisan support for the measure with Democrats (75/18), independents (70/22), and Republicans (53/40) all expressing their favor for it."
See all results here.
Bradenton Herald Endorses Amendment 2; Had Opposed Medical Marijuana in 2014 Election
(Miami Beach, FL) - In a surprising about-face from their previous opposition to the 2014 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, the editorial board of the Bradenton Herald endorsed Amendment 2 for the 2016 election. This is the second Florida newspaper to endorse Amendment 2 in the last week, after the Miami Herald did so on February 11, 2016. (The Miami Herald endorsed amendment 2 in 2014 as well.)
The Bradenton Herald’s editorial scathingly critiqued the Florida legislature’s inaction on the issue of medical marijuana, beginning the piece by saying, “Legislators are once again abdicating their responsibilities on the issue of medical marijuana.” They go on to call lawmakers “tone deaf”, accuse them of “ignoring citizens”, and chide Tallahassee politicians for failing to “get [their] act together”.
In their endorsement of the 2016 constitutional amendment, the editorial states that, “The new language resolves all the objectionable provisions of the flawed 2014 initiative.” It goes on to call the amendment, “much improved with various clarifying revisions.”
United for Care Campaign Manager, Ben Pollara, praised the editorial, “The Bradenton Herald gets it right: Florida needs a comprehensive medical marijuana law, and the inaction of Tallahassee politicians leaves us no other options but to amend the Florida constitution. We are honored to have the endorsement of the Herald’s editorial board.”
United for Care receives SEIU Florida Endorsement; 55,000 Nurses, Doctors and Healthcare Workers Endorse Medical Marijuana
Today the Service Employees International Union of Florida (SEIU Florida) proudly announced its endorsement of United for Care’s ballot initiative, which will allow Florida voters the chance to vote on medical marijuana in November 2016. In the 2014 election, the SEIU supported United for Care and Amendment 2, which received 58% in that election.
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees, and property service workers in the state. SEIU Florida’s members provide crucial services in hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities across the state.
“We are honored to again receive the support of the SEIU,” said Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager at United for Care. “The endorsement from the union representing the largest number of healthcare workers in the State is particularly rewarding. We will proudly fight alongside SEIU Florida to secure the rights of doctors and their patients with debilitating conditions to make medical decisions without having to live like criminals.”
A representative of the SEIU Florida State Council expressed her support for both United for Care and the new proposed amendment.
“The Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions ballot initiative is about compassion and quality of care for patients. There are hundreds of thousands of very sick Floridians who will find relief due to this comprehensive proposal. There are 24 other states that have a medical marijuana law; United for Care is doing the right thing for Florida by bringing this issue to the voters. Moreover, the proposal puts medical decisions back in their proper place- between patient and doctor,” said Martha Baker, RN, president of SEIU Local 1991, which represents nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals at Florida’s largest public hospital.
Baker, who is also Vice President of SEIU Florida, continued to say, “Seriously ill patients should not have to expose themselves to prosecution for seeking to obtain the medicine they need to relieve their symptoms, and no physician should have to put their freedom or their license at risk for recommending the use of that medicine.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
CONTACT: Bianca Garza
EMAIL: [email protected]
(Miami Beach, FL) - The Florida Division of Elections shows that the initiative petition, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions”, has exceeded the 683,149 signatures required to be placed on the 2016 ballot. It will appear before voters as Amendment 2 in the November general election after the division issues their final certification on February 2nd, 2016. The amendment was previously approved by the Florida Supreme Court in a 7–0 decision.
“Compassion is coming,” said United for Care chairman, John B. Morgan, who largely funded the signature collection campaign for the initiative. “This November, Florida will pass this law and hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering people will see relief. What Tallahassee politicians refused to do, the people will do together in this election.”
Morgan continued, “Our language is stronger than in 2014 and it shows. Pam Bondi didn’t challenge us this time. The Court approved our language unanimously. The people of Florida are compassionate. We will win this election for the really sick people in our state.”
To be placed on the ballot, a constitutional amendment requires the signatures of 683,149 registered Florida voters as well as signatures representing 8% of the 2012 electorate in at least half of Florida’s 27 congressional districts. At the time of release, the Division of Elections was reporting that 692,981 total signatures and 14 congressional districts had qualified. In addition to the signature requirement, the Florida Supreme Court must opine on the constitutionality of the amendment language, which they did unanimously in a December opinion. A constitutional amendment requires a 60% vote in support to pass. The previous medical marijuana amendment, on the November 2014 ballot, received 58%, falling just short of passage.
United for Care’s campaign manager and treasurer, Ben Pollara, said, “This is a tremendous victory for patients and doctors in our state. Amendment 2 will pass this fall and less than a year from today Florida will join 23 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing physicians to recommend marijuana to individuals with debilitating conditions. Every day, doctors prescribe dangerous, addictive, and potentially deadly narcotics to their patients but can’t even suggest the use of marijuana, which has never killed a person in thousands of years of human civilization. Very soon, Florida doctors will finally have that option.”
For press inquiries please contact Bianca Garza at [email protected].
Powered by over 13,000 volunteers, United for Care is the largest organization in Florida fighting for a sensible medical marijuana law. United for Care is a non-partisan campaign with an on-the-ground presence across the state including a campaign office in Miami and Tampa.
Pd. Pol. Adv. paid for by People United for Medical Marijuana, 20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1600, Orlando, FL 32801.
(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