Organizers for the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida have hundreds of volunteers and paid workers blanketing the state to collect the roughly 700,000 verified signatures needed to land the initiative on the state’s 2014 general election ballot. The number is rather large, the campaign’s manager acknowledged, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
“It’s a big number we have to get between now and the beginning of the year, but we’re confident we can do it,” People United for Medical Marijuana campaign manager Ben Pollara told U.S. News.
It’s a big number we have to get between now and the beginning of the year, but we’re confident we can do it.
Pollara accredited Untied For Care’s extraordinary signature-gathering numbers to the hundreds—and, on some days, thousands— of unpaid collectors and paid workers “pounding the pavement” throughout Florida. According to Pollara, the campaign’s efforts could see a spike in signatures sometime in November.
“We have a statewide grass-roots volunteer effort going on that’s bringing in five to 10,000 signatures a week and we just kicked back up our paid petition-gathering effort, which by the middle of November should be pulling in about 60- to 70,000 signatures a week,” Pollara said.
Since July, United For Care’s campaign has collected around 200,000 signatures, more than half of which have already been verified by the Florida secretary of state’s office. To be added to Florida’s general election ballot in November 2014, the medical marijuana initiative needs to collect 683,149 signatures, a task Pollara describes as a “multimillion-dollar operation.” Money has been no issue for the campaign, however, as it has been widely publicized that firm founder John Morgan has personally financed approximately 75 percent of United For Care’s funding to date.
Opponents of the medical marijuana initiative have been vocal as of late about their fears of Florida becoming like California, a state where cannabis is legalized for recreational use with minimal regulatory interference. In fact, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a challenge on October 24 with the state Supreme Court arguing the language in the initiative is misleading and would result in “de facto legalization.” Bondi’s arguments are scheduled to be heard in court on December 5.
According to Pollara, United For Care anticipated Attorney General Bondi’s stance on the issue, and that she’s simply mistaken when it comes to the facts.
“We used California’s model in a lot of ways as a ‘what not to do’ when crafting a medical marijuana law, but the one thing that’s similar is that yes, this will ultimately be up to the doctor and their patient,” Pollara said. “Our position is: Who better to make a determination of whether you have a debilitating illness than a physician? It’s not a decision that should left up to the state legislature or the state bureaucracy.”