Email insights: Medical marijuana gets a (big) head start on 2016

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Despite a narrow loss on Election Day, Ben Pollara is nowhere near finished with the battle for medical marijuana in Florida.

In an email to supporters – clearly, the first of many — the campaign manager of United for Care, reminds readers that 3,370,761 people, nearly 58% of voters, supported Amendment 2, seeking to legalize medical marijuana. That’s half a million more votes than what re-elected Gov. Rick Scott. Also, nearly 900K more Floridians voted “yes” than voted “no,” which Pollara says is “clear proof” that the people want a medical marijuana law.

Pollara believes only one reason Amendment 2 failed to get the 60 percent approval required for passage — $5 million spent on “false and misleading” advertising by one of the richest individuals in the world. That last-minute ad blitz caught United for Care unprepared, without the resources to “counter the lies with facts.”

Nevertheless, the battle has just begun, says Pollara, one his group will fight on several fronts, including legislation and a renewed constitutional push.

“Legislatively, Florida for Care is working to draft and lobby for acceptable medical marijuana legislation – and there are small signs of progress,” he says. “This work will continue and ramp up as we get closer to the legislative session in the early spring.”

Legislators should take heed of the election results, Pollara warns.

In addition, a new constitutional amendment is in the works for 2016. This one, Pollara says, will be well in advance, compared to Amendment 2, which the group filed right before the deadline. An early start will give the campaign more time to get signatures – from 12 to 13 months – as well sufficient time to build momentum.

Pollara is giving supporters a heads up, asking for support and to be on the watch for a new petition, which will launch “very soon.”

Apparently, what is starting even sooner is the email money pitches, which were relentless right up Nov. 4 — just over three weeks ago.

Less than a month of peace for voters, and now we start again.

Buckle up; it is going to be a long two years.

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.