Recreational Marijuana on 2016 Florida Ballot? Petition Needs 683,000 Signatures

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Regulate Florida, a political committee that wants to amend the Florida constitution to legalize and regulate adult use of marijuana for recreational use, has been given the go-ahead by the Department of State, Division of Elections to work on getting its initiative placed on the 2016 elections ballot.

This means that Florida voters could potentially be voting to legalize medical marijuana and to legalize marijuana for a recreational use for adults.

If voters were to approve it, then it would become legal in the state for those aged 21 or older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants within their own home after being approved for licensing. 

Regulate Florida, headed by longtime marijuana-reform advocates Karen Goldstein and Michael Minardi, has put together a multipage document arguing the merits of amending the Florida constitution to regulate adult use of weed. The initiative would make it so that weed would be legal to purchase and consume, like alcohol, along with age restrictions. The document, put together by Minardi and Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer, also looks to protect children by limiting the availability of illegal marijuana, the group says. 

The proposal, which had been in the works for some time, passed the first hurdle of needing approval from the Florida Division of Elections. Now, it needs 683,149 verified voter signatures to be able to get a place on the November 2016 ballot. 

Regulate Florida has placed the petition on its website so those who want to give Florida the chance to choose can download and sign.

The group is asking folks to print the petition on two sides or on four separate sheets stapled in order. Regulate Florida also urges for all fields to be filled to make the petition valid. Signers must also be registered to vote in Florida for their signatures to count.

Regulate Florida also wants to remind people that this petition is separate from the one United for Care has been circulating.

United for Care, which has been pushing for medical marijuana legalization, is also looking to get on the 2016 ballot. Campaign manager Ben Pollara released a statement Wednesday wishing Regulate Florida luck but deciding not to take a position on the Regulate Florida initiative. 

"I know firsthand that getting on the ballot by petition is a Herculean task that they are taking on, and I wish Karen and Michael the best of luck in this endeavor,” said Pollara. “United for Care remains entirely dedicated to passing a strong medical marijuana law that serves sick and suffering Floridians, and we have not and will not take a position regarding this new amendment.”

United for Care has collected around 400,000 petitions, and 43,259 had been verified as of Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Regulate Florida has planned a news conference in Fort Lauderdale to discuss the specifics of its initiative and its push to get signatures for approval. 

The presser, which will be held at the Stache 1920's Drinking Den and Coffee Bar, located at 109 SW Second Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, on Friday at 11 a.m., will also have petitions available for signing, as well as Regulate Florida T-shirts and information about volunteering for the group.

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