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Mitch Perry Report for 12.10.15 – Recreational pot measure supporters back off 2016 ballot bid

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Wednesday night, organizers with the group Regulate Florida told supporters in a conference call that they’re ending their attempt to put a pro-legalization of marijuana on the ballot next year in Florida.

FloridaPolitics.com was on that call, and posted the story soon after.

In a statement sent shortly after that call was completed, Regulate Florida Chairman Michael Minardi wrote, “Due to time constraints, it has become obvious we will not be able to collect the needed number of verifiable petitions in time to qualify for the 2016 election.

“However, it is because of all your hard work and the show of strength of our supporters that it is clear we can pass regulated adult use in Florida. We are happy to announce we are making a few minor changes to the petition language, have some soft commitments for funding, and we will be doing everything we can to make the 2018 ballot. By March, we will have a new petition with minor changes.”

So there you have it.

Let’s be honest here. Regulate Florida’s plans were pretty ambitious. Florida is hardly a progressive state when it comes to an issue like this. No doubt emboldened that the bid for medical marijuana came tantalizingly short last year, this group came together quickly this year and announced this past spring that they were serious about putting together a petition drive.

Such efforts are expensive. The reason why Florida is finally looking serious about getting a medical marijuana measure passed is that they finally got the sugar daddy that they had been looking for over a decade in John Morgan. Regulate Florida didn’t have that sugar daddy, though they say that they’re working with some donors already for a 2018 effort.

Last month, Ohio was attempting to become the first state in the nation to pass a recreational marijuana law before they already had a medical marijuana law in place. That measure failed, but if you followed that story at all, you know that it had a lot of major issues that prompted some pro-weed advocates to back away from supporting it.

So what about medical marijuana? Enthusiasts thought it was a sure thing in 2014, after some polls had the support in the 80 percentile early on. Obviously, a majority of folks want it in Florida. The feeling is with more Democratic Party voters going to the polls in a presidential year, it will have a better chance of passage in ’16. Not to sound mealy-mouthed about it, but that still remains to be seen, obviously.

In other news …

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche is suing his former employer, after the county rescinded a clerical job offered him earlier this year. Roche was never a favorite with his colleagues on the board, and he claims that one of his former colleagues had something to do with his not getting the job.

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The Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity’s Florida chapter is calling on its members to tell the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners to oppose the $29 million subsidy for improvements for Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Bucs (and USF football).

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At a discussion on health care issues that the Legislature will contend with next year, Tampa House Democrats Ed Narain and Janet Cruz blasted Rick Scott’s “attack” on public hospitals in Florida.

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Tampa GOP state representative Jamie Grant isn’t backing down from his denunciation of Donald Trump.

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Saint Leo University Polling Institute has Donald Trump up 31-15 percent over Marco Rubio in Florida, and David Jolly and Patrick Murphy lead their respective races for U.S. Senate.

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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