The push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is one step closer today, as the People United for Medical Marijuana (United for Care) are claiming that they have officially collected 1.1 million petitions.
Last week, New Times reported that the group thought it had reached the 1.1 million mark. An email sent out Wednesday night by the United for Care campaign director, Ben Pollara, confirmed -- that the group has collected "over 1.1 million in all."
Pollara told New Times that the group had been looking to collect a million signatures so it could safely have at least 700,000 valid one come 5 p.m. February 1 -- the official deadline.
"Most times with petition drives, you get people who may have signed a petition twice or may not be a registered voter," he said.
As of today, elections supervisors have certified 458,000 signatures and counting.
In his email, Pollara thanks the thousands of volunteers who hit the streets to get signatures.
Pollara's email also thanks John Morgan, the Orlando-based attorney and pro-medical-marijuana advocate who has poured in $2.8 million of his firm's money into helping get the legalization of medical marijuana on the ballot in November. Part of that spending spree included a $909,000 loan he gave to United for Care to help in the final lap of the petition drive.
Now that the group is claiming victory in its efforts to get the petitions, Pollara says it's time to shift things into second gear.
"We'll be getting in full campaign mode," Pollara told New Times when asked what's next. "We're ready and organized to get people to get out there and vote."
The crux of that campaign mode is to spread the word and help people understand the need for legalized medical marijuana in Florida.
The charge now, Pollara says in his email, is to "help educate the millions of Florida voters who will hopefully be allowed to have a choice in November."
GOP leaders, like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, have been working to derail the drive as the Florida Supreme Court weighs in on whether the ballot's language is legal.
If the Supreme Court approves the wording, the amendment will hit the ballot come November. Then it will need a yes vote from 60 percent of voters to make Florida the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana.
With the hard work of United for Care and its volunteers, we seem to be a step closer to that reality.
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