people united for medical marijuana

Florida: Benefactor Donates $4 Million More To Florida's Medical Marijuana Fight

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

John Morgan, the man who has led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, has donated $4 million more of his own money to the campaign.

Morgan is pushing to pass Amendment 2, and he says it's for his dad, his brother, and others who may suffer from debilitating diseases, reports Kendra Conlon at WTSP.

"It's all frivolous until it happens to you," John's brother Tim Morgan said. Tim broke his back in 1977 in a lifeguarding accident; he's now quadriplegic, with excruciating pain that has only gotten worse over the decades.

"I had cancer in 2003 and a pacemaker put in two years ago," said Tim, who added that medical marijuana gets him through the day as director of Morgan and Morgan. "You just break out in a sweat for no reason; you smoke pot and it stops. Why? I don't know; I don't care. It works."

"With my dad, he was dying from emphysema," John Morgan said. "It gave him appetite on Day 1, and it took away his anxiety."

If Amendment 2 passes with 60 percent or more of the vote (as a constitutional amendment, it needs more than a simple majority), it would allow doctors to authorize patients to use medical marijuana, with the state regulating production and distribution.

"I have never met one person -- because there's none -- who has ever died from a marijuana overdose, ever," John said. "It's so simple and so easy, and that's why I think it's going to pass."

Florida: Republicans Jump Into Fight Against Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A recent poll in Florida has shown support for medical marijuana at almost 90 percent. The medicinal cannabis question on the ballot could even affect the gubernatorial race. But in a move of questionable political wisdom, deep-pocketed Republicans have raised more than $7.7 million to fight Amendment 2, a proposal to allow doctors to authorize seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.

The latest financial reports from the two biggest groups fighting medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State show that the Drug Free Florida campaign alone has raised $2.7 million, including a single $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP wheeler dealer Sheldon Adelson, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.

Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the richest men in the world, and not coincidentally, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He spent $150 million supporting GOP candidates in the 2012 elections -- almost all of whom lost.

Joining the Republicans in their anti-pot fight this week was the supposedly "non-partisan" Florida Sheriffs Association, which began sponsoring an inane, almost fact-free "educational campaign" against the medical marijuana amendment.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Manager Blasts CPS Investigation Of Advocate

LegalizeMedicalMarijuanaInFlorida

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The campaign manager of Florida's medical marijuana ballot drive has expressed outrage after a woman last week was abruptly visited by Child Protective Services on an anonymous tip that she had been giving marijuana to her son, who suffers from a rare form of severe epilepsy.

Renee Petro, the advocate in question, wasn't administering any cannabis to her 12-year-old son, Branden, reports Chris Joseph at Broward Palm Beach New Times. But that didn't stop CPS agents coming into her home to interrogate Petro's 9-year-old daughter and the nurse who helps take care of Branden.

"This is exactly why Floridians need to pass Amendment 2 in November," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager with United For Care, the main organization backing the ballot initiative. "And why we need everyone's support to get word out about stories like Renee's and her family's."

Petro gives Branden his prescribed medications, as well as legal hemp oil. Since she hadn't actually broken the law, her experience could be considered even more egregious than that of Cathy Jordan, the wheelchair-bound activist with Lou Gehrig's disease who was raided by police after a tip last year when a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on the property of Jordan and her husband Robert. (Jordan's charges were dropped by the State Attorney's office in Manatee in April 2013.)

Florida: Medical Marijuana Backers Say They Have Enough Signatures

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Supporters of a medical marijuana initiative in Florida on Wednesday announced they have collected enough signatures to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

Campaign manager Ben Pollara of United For Care, which is sponsoring a constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis in Florida, sent out an email to supporters that the group has collected more than 1.1 million signatures, reports NBC Miami.

Organizers face a February 1 deadline to turn in 683,189 valid voter signatures in order to qualify. Election supervisors have already certified nearly 458,000 signatures.

"Literally thousands of volunteers contributed their time, collecting petitions in the rain and heat, on their weekends and holidays," Pollara said.

The Florida Supreme Court must approve the language that will go on the ballot, even if there are enough signatures. Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging the wording, claiming voters will be misled into approving widespread use of marijuana.

The court has until April to make its ruling on whether the ballot summary is misleading. Citizen initiatives are limited to 75 word summaries; the medical marijuana initiative's ballot summary has 74 words.

If the court approves the wording, the measure would need 60 percent of the vote, rather than a simple majority. Florida law requires that constitutional amendments get 60 percent.

Florida: With Clock Ticking, Morgan Pours $2.8 Million Into Medical Marijuana Drive

SignThePetitionwww.PUFMM.org

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The clock is ticking on the effort to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) has until February 1 to gather more than 683,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for November's ballot, and the measure's top backer, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, last month poured $2.8 million more into the effort.

Morgan in December spent $2 million on the California-based signature gathering firm PCI Consultants Inc., which has bought airtime and sent signature gathering teams to malls and other public spaces, reports Aaron Deslatte at the Orlando Sentinel.

The $2.8 million total for December also includes an $809,000 loan from Morgan's law firm to PUFMM. Campaign finance records show Morgan's family and law firm have now contributed 83 percent of the the legalization drive's entire budget.

"I'm going to have the signatures; it's just a matter of if they're valid," Morgan said. He said that more than 1 million signatures have already been collected.

The initiative is still waiting for a decision from the Florida Supreme Court on whether its ballot language is valid. Last month, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi argued that the initiative's summary was misleading and could open the door to de-facto legalized marijuana.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Has Overwhelming 82% Support

FloridaMarijuana2014

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With backers of an initiative gathering signatures for next year's ballot, medical marijuana has the support of an amazing 82 percent of voters in Florida, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday. The same poll found that 48 percent of voters favor overall legalization.

"If the folks who want to legalize medical marijuana in Florida can get their proposal on the ballot, they are overwhelmingly favored to prevail next November," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Support for the proposed constitutional amendment which could appear on the 2014 ballot is very strong among voters of every political affiliation, every age and every income level, reports Marc Caputo at the Bradenton Herald. Independent voters show the highest level of support at 88 percent, according to the poll.

The 82-16 overall support for medical marijuana is the biggest ever recorded in Florida. The previous crest of support was about 70 percent, taken in a poll earlier this year by People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), the group behind the constitutional amendment.

Florida: State Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Medical Marijuana Initiative

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Florida Supreme Court on December 5 will hear arguments on whether a proposed initiative to amend the state constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, should go before voters on the November 2014 general election ballot.

The announcement came just before supporters and opponents of the measure were to gather at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College for a debate, "The Great Debate! Marijuana Legalization: Make An Informed Decision," reports Alex Sanz at WPTV.

The debate will pit Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), against Kevin Sabet, who director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and a notorious anti-cannabis whack-job.

"It's needed now because there are people who are ill now," said William Deans, an organizer at Medical Marijuana Petition Palm Beach. "We're going to have 900,000 petitioners before it is said and done with, who have signed to indicate that they want this issue on the ballot."

Jeff Kadel, executive director of something called the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, wasted no time in displaying his ignorance on the subject.

Florida: Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court To Throw Out Medical Marijuana Initiative

FloridaAttorneyGeneralPamBondi

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposal to put a ballot measure which would legalize medical marijuana before state voters in the November 2014 general election. Bondi on Thursday sent a petition to the Florida Supreme Court, along with the campaign's ballot language and petitions.

Atty. Gen. Bondi claims that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), led by Orlando attorney John Morgan, filed misleading ballot language in describing how widely medical marijuana would be allowed under the measure, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel.

Bondi also complained that the ballot language failed to note that even if Florida voters approve the measure, marijuana will still be illegal under federal law.

"Its true scope and effect remain hidden," Bondi claimed in her petition to the Supreme Court.

She charged the wording was too broad and would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for almost any condition, and additionally argued that medical marijuana could not be called "legal" as long as it's illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in federal law.

Bondi's arguments would come as quite a surprise to the patients of California, who have had safe access to medical marijuana for 17 years under state law, and to patients in 19 other states which also passed medical marijuana laws without asking for federal permission.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Backer Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is: $400K

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Last summer, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan said he was prepared to spend "a lot of money" on a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. So far, he's putting his money where his mouth is.

The latest campaign finance records show Morgan and his law firm have pitched in $400,000 to the People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) campaign, reports Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel. That's nearly two-thirds of the $644,535 the group had raised through September, with $250,000 of that coming in the past three months.

The other major donor to the campaign has been Democratic fundraiser and philanthropist Barbara Stiefel of Coral Gables, who contributed $100,000.

PUFMM has collected enough signatures, 105,910, to trigger Florida Supreme Court review and an economic analysis of the measure's financial impact on the state, which is currently underway. To qualify for the November 2014 general election ballot, 683,149 valid signatures are required.

Longtime Democratic fundraiser Morgan, who backs former Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida gubernatorial race, makes speeches around the state in support of the medical marijuana measure. He told a Tallahassee crowd in August how both his father and brother had suffered from cancer and injuries, and turned to cannabis to find relief from their pain.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Initiative Takes First Step Towards 2014 Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, led by Orlando lawyer and political power broker/fundraiser John Morgan, is ready for the state Supreme Court to review. This is the first step towards getting the question in front of voters on the November 2014 ballot.

Final language for the proposed ballot initiative has been approved by Morgan, he said on Friday, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel. Morgan said he is ready to send the language to the Florida Supreme Court for approval so that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) can begin a petition drive.

The effort still has many hurdles to clear before getting on the ballot. Once the Florida Supreme Court approves the language of the initiative, supporters must get 788,000 signatures from registered Florida voters -- then come more reviews.

But sending the language to the Florida Supreme Court, which Morgan said would happen late Friday or on Monday, is a sign that the effort is getting serious, a first for Florida.

The language would allow doctors to authorize marijuana to treat severe symptoms or drug side effects associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It would also allow physicians to authorize cannabis in other unspecified cases involving life-threatening illnesses.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Supporters Sense Impending Victory

Photo - Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Gets Financial BackersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates in Florida sense that 2014 will be the year they finally achieve their goal.

"Florida is ready to explode," said Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, reports Mary Wozniak at the News-Press. "We firmly believe that Florida patients will have legal access to cannabis by November 2014."

State lawmakers may be preempted by the people after a medical marijuana bill died in committee in the 2013 legislative session. Sponsor Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) said last week he plans to bring the measure back for another try next year; he said he could also propose a constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis.

But if the drive to collect just over 683,000 voter signatures takes off, the matter could be put on the ballot for the voters to decide. The effort had suffered from a lack of resources until political fundraiser John Morgan, who heads up the Morgan and Morgan law firm, recently joined the cause.

Morgan promised to contribute funds from his own pocket, as well as to raise money from other donors to pay for the signature-gathering drive, estimated to cost more than $3 million. Backers believe Morgan's political and financial influence could lead them to victory.

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