With John Morgan leading the charge, United for Care has said they will petition Florida’s Secretary of State in the 2014 election to add an amendment to the state’s constitution that will legalize medical marijuana.
“I have the finished product in front of me,” John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan and chairman of United for Care, said. “I’m going to have it delivered to the Secretary of State office by Friday or early next week at the latest.”
United for Care have solicited approx. 700,000 signatures necessary to get the item added to the 2014 general election ballot.
United for Care, a statewide organization at the forefront of the push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and the subgroup behind the campaign, People United for Medical Marijuana, have solicited around 700,000 signatures necessary to get the item added to the 2014 general election ballot.
So far in the U.S., 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws that have made medical cannabis legal, whether under tight regulatory restrictions for medical applications, for casual recreational use, or both.
The idea for a formal petition began after many failed attempts by various groups, such as the Florida Cannabis Action Network, to have a bill calling for the regulation of medical cannabis to be heard in front of legislative committees.
This heel dragging by the state’s lawmakers, according to Ben Pollara, founding partner of the LSN Partners consulting firm, is why it was time to bypass the politicians and let the people’s voice be heard. A statewide poll conducted by Pollara in January and February revealed that 70 percent of Florida’s voters would support a constitutional amendment to legalize medical cannabis.
“Look what happened during the last legislative session,” Pollara said in an article published on the organization’s website. “There’s a poll saying 70 percent of the people are for it and they don’t even have a hearing.”
But without a point man on the front lines, how could the people’s voice be heard loud and clear? That’s when Pollara called the right man for the job.
“He [Pollara] said he needed somebody to put a face to the campaign,” Morgan said. “So I decided to do it.”
Morgan, a staple for years on televisions throughout Florida, has never shied away from sharing how his experiences growing up have helped shaped his personal and professional beliefs. The two reasons behind his vocal support of the medical marijuana legalization effort in Florida, he says, started when he saw how medical cannabis helped his father, who had been diagnosed with emphysema and esophageal cancer, relive his pain.
The second reason, according to Morgan, stems from the damage he’s seen caused by the high-powered prescription pain medications his clients are often given by a doctor following an injury.
“Also, as a personal injury attorney,” Morgan said, “I’ve seen people in pain who end up on oxycodone. And 16,000 people die from that every year. It’s highly addictive.”
Morgan’s plan to bolster United for Care’s campaign, as detailed in the release, is to help raise $2 million to $3 million just to get campaign signatures, and up to an additional $20 million to ensure the campaign is run successfully. According to Morgan, however, it will take much more than cash and paid signature collectors to make the state’s politicians hear what the voters so vocally support.
“I’ll be looking for an Army of Angels,” Morgan said. “I’m going to advertise for people to come to my offices and pick up petitions.”
For Morgan, the success of this campaign starts from the bottom and from those with illnesses whose symptoms have been eased by smoking marijuana.
“I believe this will be a grass-roots campaign,” Morgan said. “Thousands and thousands of people have e-mailed me—cops, vets, doctors, everybody—especially people who have seen the effects.”
Though many are in agreement that Florida will see the legalization of medical marijuana, not all feel a constitutional amendment is the best way to make it happen. On the heels of a massive, multi-agency operation that shut down hundreds of illegal “pill mills” in Florida and its surrounding states, one fear is that without tight regulation of the drug, the state will be flooded with doctors who freely write marijuana prescriptions to fill their own pockets. With this in mind, Pollara and his group have said they want the proposed amendment to include a structure for regulations.
“We don’t want it to be like California,” Pollara said. “We’re not in the campaign to have de facto legalization of marijuana, but make medical marijuana available to those who need it.”
Regardless of the particulars of how it happens or when, the decision to be made during the 2014 election, according to Morgan, should be an easy one.
“Legalizing marijuana is a no-brainer.”
Click here for a printable version of the petition.