Will The Grass Be Greener In 2016 For Medical Pot?

November 29, 2014

Legalization of medical marijuana in Florida went up in smoke earlier this month, but proponents of Amendment 2 haven’t given up.

“We are going to pass a medical marijuana law in Florida by the end of 2016,” pledged Ben Pollara, head of the committee that tried to get voters to approve the proposed constitutional amendment Nov. 4.

The medical marijuana initiative was heavily bankrolled by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who spent more than $2 million of his own money to get the item onto the November ballot. But Morgan and the United for Care group backing the amendment were outspent in the run-up to the November election by a political committee funded in large part by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson spent $5.5 million to help fund a media blitz aimed at defeating the measure, also opposed by Florida sheriffs and police chiefs.

In an e-mail to supporters Tuesday evening, United for Care — tied to a political committee officially known as “People United for Medical Marijuana,” or “PUFFM” — Pollara wrote that he and his group aren’t backing down from the fight to make medical marijuana legal.

“Let’s be clear: the ONLY reason medical marijuana didn’t pass in November is because one of the richest men in the world funded over $5 million dollars worth of false and misleading advertising on TV, radio and the Internet, and we simply did not have enough resources to counter the lies with facts in enough time. Despite being outspent on advertising 3 to 1, we still wound up with one of the highest percentages of support for medical marijuana ever seen in the country,” Pollara wrote.

Pollara noted that Amendment 2 received 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent approval required for constitutional amendments to pass in Florida.

“This total — half a million more than Gov. Rick Scott and almost 900k more than voted ‘no’ — is clear proof that the people of Florida want a medical marijuana law,” he wrote.

Pollara said his group will pursue a two-pronged approach to make medical pot legit, either by getting lawmakers to approve it or by putting another constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016.

Even Pollara wrote that he is “skeptical” that the Legislature will expand on a measure approved earlier this year that legalized cannabis low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD, for patients with severe muscle spasms or cancer. The pot purportedly doesn’t get users high but is believed to alleviate life-threatening seizures in children with rare forms of epilepsy.

The GOP-dominated Legislature approved the measure, signed into law by Scott, in part to thwart Amendment 2, which Scott and Republican legislative leaders opposed.

That leaves the constitutional route, a possibility that gives the GOP in Florida the willies because putting a pro-pot item on the presidential ballot in 2016 could draw out younger, more left-leaning voters.

That’s just the avenue that Pollara and his allies are planning, however.

The 2016 presidential election will increase voter turnout, “and arguably, a stronger and more engaged electorate than were interested in the governor’s race,” Pollara wrote.

“We believe this broader swath of the public will be way more likely to pass medical marijuana, despite what we expect will be a new round of well-funded lies coming out of the other side,” he wrote.

By Dara Kam and Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida


6 Responses to “Will The Grass Be Greener In 2016 For Medical Pot?”

  1. Bob's Brother on December 1st, 2014 8:02 am

    @ABC… most astute, sir… I believe if people had read that land trust amendment and understood it, they’d have voted no. Also, we don’t need a medical pot law like California. Anyone with a pulse can get a script. If we’re going to have a law like Calif, just go legal on it altogether, tax it and give the money to hospitals.

  2. ABC on November 30th, 2014 9:44 pm

    Medical marijana is a decent idea, but the way they wrote this amendment left too many loopholes for marijuana to be had by way more than medical needs,

    Perhaps Florida should take heed as to the Governor of Colorado when he suggested the rest of the country give four years to see how this law is doing in the rest of the nation and his state ….

    Besides if the voters read the total amendment and understood the legalities of what it suggests instead of leaning on the small description on their ballet sheet, which never tells the whole story on anything we vote on and is usually very misleading because it is not the full and entire amendment in question. The perhaps many would make wiser decisions………when they vote.

  3. Bryan Bethea on November 29th, 2014 1:20 pm

    The backers of Amendment 2 were just plain stupid to place it on the ballot in a non-presidential year. The electorate always tilts older and more conservative during those elections.

  4. me on November 29th, 2014 9:48 am

    Maybe those of us that want medical marijuana should just pack up and head to a state that already has it legal. The South is a ridiculous place to live anyways.

  5. 429SCJ on November 29th, 2014 2:11 am

    Young left winger voters, don’t forget about the old right wing nationalist who toke.

    Hang in there Sheldon, a better day is coming. It is only a few trillion $ and a crisis away.

  6. Jerry S. on November 29th, 2014 1:20 am

    Plus, a lot of these old people who voted “No” will be dead by 2016. Sad, but true. The more old people that die, the higher support for things like pot legalization, gay marriage, and other social issues increases.

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