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Email insights: For medical marijuana legalziation, there’s always 2016

in Top Headlines by

When it comes to legalizing medical marijuana, it may once again rest in the hands of Florida voters.

With only days left in the regular 2015 legislative session, a new email from United for Care says legislators are seemingly satisfied with running out the clock on comprehensive medical marijuana laws. The legislative session ends on May 1, though there is likely to be a Special Session to hammer out the state budget.

“We had high hopes that our leaders would act on the will of the majority of Floridians,” said Campaign Manager Ben Pollara, with jsut a touch of resignation. “But it seems likelier by the day that they won’t and that it will fall back to a constitutional amendment.”

But there is still time; with it, comes hope.

“Our legislators still have time to fix this and we aren’t calling it until session is actually over,” added Dan Rogers, Florida for Care’s director of legislative affairs and lead lobbyist. “We will remain in Tallahassee urging our lawmakers to do the right thing until the last hour.”

Spoken like a true believer, a regular Don Quixote.

SB 7066, which the Senate lists as “retained on Special Order Calendar” as of Friday, seeks to allow access to medical marijuana for a range of ailments, the same as in 23 other states and the District of Columbia.

Although a majority of voters approved Amendment 2 last November (58 percent), the measure to legalize medical marijuana failed to reach the 60 percent threshold required by state law.

That could be a different story in 2016.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll finds Florida voters still back legalizing marijuana for both medical and personal use. Support is much higher than the 60 percent threshold, possibly indicating the troubling language of Amendment 2.

The poll now has 84 percent of Floridians saying the state should legalize medical marijuana; 14 percent say they do not.

“We want the majority of the sick and suffering to have access to medical marijuana as soon as possible,” Pollara says. “But it appears that date is going to be after we win in November 2016.”

As lawmakers struggle to enact the medical marijuana measure already passed last year — the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, also known as the “Charlotte’s Web” law — it should serve as a lesson for Florida voters.

If they want something done about medical marijuana, apparently they will have to do it themselves in 2016.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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