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With House adjourning, United for Care says its going to 2016 ballot

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida House has adjourned sine die, meaning it is abandoning the legislative session three days early and leaving a host of unresolved issues on the table.

Among those issues is medical marijuana, which has been left dead for 2015.

“Today the people we elected to represent us in Tallahassee literally abdicated their responsibility to Floridians. The House of Representatives decided to simply quit work, three days before the end of session, and with that, medical marijuana legislation is dead in Tallahassee,” United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said in a statement reacting to the news.

United for Care is the main group backing medical marijuana legislation in Florida and was launched by prominent Florida attorney John Morgan. The group was also at the helm of the state’s Amendment 2 initiative that narrowly failed last November despite earning more than 50 percent approval among voters. The amendment needed 60 percent to pass.

The group was hopeful medical marijuana would be taken up this session in response to what was clearly overwhelming support among Florida voters. A measure was introduced in the Senate by Jeff Brandes that would have provided some of the same provisions as Amendment 2, but it stalled.

Another bill, SB 7066, would have provided a fix to last year’s Charlotte’s Web bill allowing the use of low-THC cannabis for certain patients including kids with epilepsy.

“Hundreds of thousands of patients across this state are sick, suffering and dying, but the House simply quit. Nearly 3.4 million Floridians voted “yes” for medical marijuana, but the House simply quit,” Pollara continued.

The group has said they are already moving forward with a petition effort to put another amendment on the 2016 ballot. That move was seen as a hint the group lacked confidence in a measure making its way through the conservative Florida House.

“Despite courageous leadership from Senators and Representatives in both houses and both parties, Tallahassee has failed us again. Medical marijuana will be on the ballot in 2016 and the voters will pass what the legislature failed to,” Pollara said.

United for Care Chair John Morgan is expected to issue a separate statement later.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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