Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Medical Marijuana Petition Drive Launches in FL

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Activists today announced a massive petition drive to put medical marijuana on the Florida ballot. They'll need 700,000 signatures to put a constitutional amendment to a vote in 2016.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager with United for Care, said the law would allow patients diagnosed with a debilitating disease to possess medical marijuana, permit dispensaries to sell cannabis and let doctors prescribe it.

"We allow our physicians to prescribe Xanax and Oxycontin and other dangerous, addictive, potentially lethal narcotics," he said, "and they should have the ability to recommend the use of medical marijuana."

Opponents see marijuana as a "gateway drug" that leads to abuse of more serious illegal substances. A similar legalization bill failed in the Florida Legislature a few months ago. However, another initiative for a constitutional amendment in 2014 received 58 percent of the popular vote - just shy of the 60 percent needed to pass.

Pollara said he thinks the time will be right in 2016.

"This is an issue that is broadly supported by the public, and the support is only increasing," he said, "In a year-and-a-half, with a presidential campaign electorate - which is going to be a much more diverse electorate than in 2014 - we are in a very good position to pass this."

Medical marijuana currently is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

The petition is online at unitedforcare.org.

Photos/graphics; links: added/updated by the Observer

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