Home / State of Florida / On Florida’s Possible Path To Medical Marijuana Legalization

On Florida’s Possible Path To Medical Marijuana Legalization


Florida voters could be voting to legalize marijuana as soon as 2014.

Florida medical marijuana supporters have created a petition to get the medical marijuana issue on the general election ballot.

The petition — started by United for Care, a campaign run by People United for Medical Marijuana — kicked off  the legalization campaign in July.

Ben Pollara, the campaign manager and treasurer of United for Care, said the campaign has already collected more than 180,000 signatures.

About 683,149 total Florida registered voter signatures are required by Feb. 1 to get the amendment on the ballot.

“Each county’s election supervisors have 30 days to process submitted petitions, so there is a lag between the number of collected and the number processed,” Pollara said.

For that reason, United for Care wants to reach its goal by Jan. 1, 2014, he said.

The United for Care campaign was started by a stay-at-home mom and member of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee in Orlando, Kim Russell.

People United for Medical Marijuana launched in 2009 when Russell’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Pollara said.

Russell’s father refused to take medical marijuana to relieve his symptoms because it was illegal, Pollara added.

Russell then decided to launch a campaign to help legalize medical marijuana for those Floridians who would benefit from it.

People United for Medical Marijuana branched off into the United for Care campaign in July.

United for Care has completed two polls, both revealing that 70 percent of Floridians are in favor of medical marijuana legislation.

“We, as an organization, believe that if the voters in Florida are given the opportunity to pass this, they will,” Pollara said. “But the legislature is not going to act in any meaningful way any time soon.”

Groups have long been attempting to make medical marijuana legal in Florida, but without success, Pollara said.

While two pieces of legislation in favor of legalizing medical marijuana made it to the state legislature in 2012, they did not garner any traction.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re pushing forward with a constitutional amendment that the voters of Florida can actually vote on and have a voice, rather than pursuing a legislative agenda,” Pollara said. “This is not about the legalization of marijuana. This is not about drug reform. This is about getting compassionate healthcare to people who really need it.”

Amy Ronshausen, manager of legislative and congressional affairs for Save Our Society from Drugs, said legalizing medical marijuana in Florida is not the way her organization thinks medicine should be done within the state.

“The people that support and that are pushing for these ballot measures are working on these issues to play on people’s compassion,” she said.

Gainesville resident Gamal Jadue, 23, said he does not see the problem with legalizing medical marijuana in Florida if it can improve people’s lives.

“For medical purposes, it should definitely be legal,” Jadue said. “If medical research says that it’s beneficial to use it, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be legal.”

About Amber Dawson

Amber is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  1. Matthew Cunningham

    Their are thousand of Floridians who could benefit from cannabis and all they do ban bongs either bought and paid for or totally out of date.

  2. For anyone familiar with the effects of cannabis, it’s astonishing that cannabis is illegal and alcohol is not. This outdated and misinformed perspective of cannabis must come to an end.

  3. Immortal Illumined

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING…

    i still remember our 1996 norcal senior classes all uniting to pass the first medical marijuana bill in our first vote…what do you mean possible florida? if it wasn’t for so many people in your state over 65, you’d be at the big boy table already…love your state

    we all knew then…….long live the greatest state and the best crew….

    ride on us, LOVE and FREEDOM!

  4. “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” 
    ― Carl Sagan

  5. The smartest thing this state could possibly do is pass legislation for medical use of cannabis in the next legislative session. The Bill introduced last year was the best compared to other states except it needed to allow more plants per patient for those who juice it fresh and raw (no high just pure healthy medicine), eat if fresh and cook with it. Cancer patients needing the oil would need more plants also.

    Cannabis is such an awesome antibiotic it can kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and disrupt the progression of prion diseases such as Mad Cow and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, currently there is “No FDA-approved treatment for a prion disease.”

    Thousands of deaths each year in the U.S. are caused by MRSA. A recent study shows hemp fabric stops the spread of Staph and MRSA. In light of that, with the Staph and MRSA epidemic in most U.S. Hospitals wouldn’t it be wise to use hemp fabric for all hospital bedding, towels, clothing and curtains?

    Florida Health Officials reported there are 1.6 MILLION Floridians that would be eligible for treatment using medical cannabis. I believe that is acknowledgement of medical value, though the numbers are taken from those with diseases that are clearly documented to benefit from medical cannabis. That means those people tried everything else and found more relief and benefit from cannabis than standard treatment. Why would we deny this for Floridians?

    Topical use of a cannabis liniment is far more effective than any pain medication and does not get one high but it isn’t legal to use. It would prevent addiction because one never ingests anything. A few sprays – NO HIGH – NO PAIN – NO ADDICTION, except to living without pain.

    End the pharmaceutical chemical slavery NOW. Cannabis should be legal to grow in every backyard on the planet. The making of crimes out of health matters has proven a dismal reckless failure. Scientific studies have proven Cannabis has medical value, is safe and effective for many health ailments. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system and evidence of health benefits consuming cannabis raw, which has no psychoactive properties, should leave cannabis as a dietary food. Cannabis is one of the original medicines and still safer than pharmaceutical chemicals which kill people daily and have every day in the 100 years they have been used.

    • no, thats stupid, people need to get “high” because, it helps you sleep, and improves your appetite become more, litterally that is first step to healing “deppression” so, id legalize all weed, canabis or weed ( yes theres a difference though a small one ) and, i feel real weed not canabis is better than tobacco by a hell lot so, ban tobaco legalize the usage of marijuana of all sorts, prescribed or not ( not like i do it (for real not even sarcasm) but, it would be smart to legalize it with or without prescrption and canabis or real weed should be smoked legally )

      • I have been on narcotics for approx. 6 yrs. The main one was methadone. But i was also on oxycontin, soma and hydrcodone. I was sicker
        than i had ever been and was afraid to do medicinal marijuana because it has been illegal in Fl. I am now fighting to have marijuana for my fybromyalga and lupus. I have no teeth due to the narcotics bit i will guarantee that my body will not be eaten up by narcotics. Marijua a makes my body feel better and its more important to me than to lose my insides due to narctics.

  6. Legalization may seem appropriate as cannabis is estimated to be Florida’s second biggest cash crop and Florida is one of the US’s largest producer states. Pundits predict as much as 70% will vote for legalisation.

    However, it seems to me the campaign is premature, poorly organised, and may fail.

    Failure will impoverish Florida as it denies tax income and keeps the cost of the failed war on drugs. Failure may also give electoral benefit to Democrats.

    The campaign is so poorly organised it suggests a Machiavellian attempt to stop the progress of legal cannabis into Florida. Who may gain from failure? Reactionary Republicans, ambitious Democrats, and especially criminal gangs. Major social change often produces strange bedfellows.

    • are you kidding me ? You can’t be serious about this , can you ? do you really think this is some far reaching conspiracy to put “Democrats and Criminal gangs in charge” ? Maybe its just some people who want to help other people who would benefit from this basically harmless drug . Some times a cigar is just a cigar .

  7. Even if this is passed , majority of people who have jobs (which I guess aren’t those that want it legalized anyways) will still not be allowed to use the drug . It will still be illegal to sell and use while driving or operating machinery . It will still be illegal to use in the military and all other important jobs . The only people who will be allowed to use it will be those sitting at home all day doing nothing important with their lives . Also , it will most likely not pass , because it cannot be taxed and still being used for illegal purposes .

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