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Medical marijuana backers say they have enough signed petitions for Florida Supreme Court review

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United for Care, the group that pushed for a medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2014 in Florida that fell just short, says they are well on their way to getting a similar measure on the 2016 ballot.

Officials with the group said today they will be sending 100,000 petitions to local Supervisor of Elections offices next week – well more than the 68,317 thousand validated petitions required for a Supreme Court review.

“This is a massive head start over the previous campaign – which started late. If we can sustain this pace, we should ensure our place on the ballot before the holidays,” said Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager. “This early accomplishment comes as a direct result out of the dedicated volunteers we have and the generous donors large and small helping to fund our efforts,” he added.

The Supervisor of Elections offices have 30 days to verify that a petition is valid. Following verification, the Supreme Court will then schedule a review, which Pollara predicts will happen by mid-August.

In November of last year, Amendment Two, the constitutional amendment that would have allowed for the legal consumption of medical marijuana, received 57.6 percent of the vote, short of the 60 percent needed for passage. The measure has been retitled this year as the “Use of Medical Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions.”

Shortly before the measure lost last fall, John Morgan, the prominent Orlando attorney who bank-rolled the amendment, vowed that if the vote was close he would try again to get it passed, saying, “If I lose a battle, I can damn sure still win the war.” The News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam reported last month that Morgan has already spent $150,000 on this year’s effort.

If the Supreme Court were to OK the ballot language, United for Care would need to have 683,179 validated petitions to get on the 2016 ballot.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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