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
(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@example.com.
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
(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.