After coming two percentage points of having medical marijuana legalized in last November's election, United for Care quickly bounced back to get medicinal marijuana back onto the ballot for the 2016 election. It needed to collect 68,317 valid signatures for a Supreme Court review and 683,179 validated petitions to get on the 2016 ballot. According to the group, a total of 73, 713 petitions were verified on Monday, meaning the Supreme Court will review their 2016 ballot initiative.
United for Care had collected and submitted more than 100,000 signatures for review back in late July.
"The court is looking to see that the language on the ballot is clear," Vanessa Moffatt, director of operations at Florida for Care, told New Times. "They want to make sure the issue is clear enough for the voter and that there's nothing on the ballot that violates other state laws."
In the end, United for Care went 5,000 signatures over the official number needed. The Florida Supreme Court will now rule on whether the new proposed amendment is constitutional. Per state law, the court will review the language to make sure it's clear and concise and make sure that the ballot has only one subject and issue, making it clear enough for voters to understand what exactly they're voting Yes or No on.
The proposed amendment will go to Attorney General Pam Bondi, who must review the language in the next thirty days before it's sent to the Supreme Court.
“We are thrilled at this timely accomplishment," says United for Care Campaign Manager , Ben Pollara. "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.”
United for Care, which has been powered by a grass-roots operation and funded mostly by Orlando-based attorney John Morgan — who put in $2.8 million of his own money to help the cause — has been calling on medical marijuana advocates to sign the petition and spread the word.
Back in May, Morgan raised the stakes and promised to match every dollar donated to United for Care to get the medical marijuana initiative back on the ballot in 2016. In June, Morgan came through with that promise and wrote the group a $150,000 check.
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“Compassion is coming in 2016!" Morgan said via a release on Monday. "Tallahassee is broken, but I have faith in the people of Florida. We will win and hundreds of thousands will benefit as a result.”
Even with the initiative headed to the Supreme Court for review, United for Care's work is not done.
In additional to the Supreme Court's approval, the group must collect an another 609,436 validated petitions in order to be placed on the 2016 ballot.
The November 2014 election saw the medical marijuana initiative fall two percentage points short of passing. While it was a defeat, United for Care was encouraged by the turnout. More people voted for the legalization of medical marijuana than for Rick Scott's reelection.