United for Care: 100,000 and counting in new drive

July 22, 2015 9:16 pm

The effort to legalize medical marijuana picked up Wednesday when United for Care turned in roughly 100,000 signed petitions to Florida election officials. The revised amendment could be on the ballot “before the holidays.”

Under state law 68,317 verified signatures are needed to trigger a state Supreme Court review and 683,179 are required by Feb. 1 for a spot on the 2016 ballot. “If we can sustain this pace we should ensure our place on the ballot before the holidays,” said United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara.

marijuanapetitions (2).jpg» Morgan: "Charlotte's Web is not enough. I'm happy that some people will have access to a medicine that they've never before had, but it's just not enough."

United for Care’s 2014 amendment drive did not qualify for court review until late September 2013. It squeezed onto the ballot on Jan. 27, 2014.

“This is a massive head start over the previous campaign,” Pollara said. “We expect to have our review date by mid-August.”

Earlier this month, John Morgan, head of United for Care, said the new amendment clarifies issues that tripped up Amendment 2, which lost by two percentage points.

“I know some people were worried that children would somehow obtain a doctor’s recommendation, and the medicine … without their parent’s being aware,” Morgan said. “Now that 42 percent [who voted no] will undoubtedly understand that this medicine will not go into the hands of children without a several step process.”

United for Care is using a mixture of volunteers – approximately 13,000 – and paid petitioners. The state Division of Elections has 30 days to certify the petitions before the amendment goes to the Supreme Court for examination.

Meanwhile, the health department replaced Patricia Nelson at the helm of Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana, naming a Florida State law school graduate and policy specialist to take over.

After months of legal challenges against Charlotte’s Web under Nelson’s watch, Christian Bax was appointed Wednesday to take over the Office of Compassionate Use. Nelson is rejoining the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, according to a press release.

Bax also graduated from the University of Alabama and Babson College’s business school. He headed a consulting company that specialized in medical marijuana regulations in Nevada and Washington, the health department said.

State health officials are currently reviewing 28 applications to grow Charlotte’s Web.


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