The issue is still pending before the state Supreme Court, which
has until April 1 to determine whether the ballot language meets
If the petition is approved by 60 percent of voters in November,
Florida would become the first southern U.S. state, joining 20 other
states in approving marijuana for medical use.
A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey late last year
showed 82 percent public support for the amendment, if it gets on
the ballot. A constitutional amendment in Florida requires 60
percent voter approval for adoption.
The state Division of Elections recorded on Friday that petition
signatures of 710,508 Florida voters had been certified by county
elections supervisors. The initiative also crossed the minimum
signature threshold in at least 14 congressional districts, as
required by law.
People United for Medical Marijuana, the campaign committee behind
the United for Care petition drive, announced Friday it had met the
February 1 deadline for certifying at least 683,149 voter
Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, said more than
1.1 million signatures were submitted to county elections
supervisors. A rejection rate of about 20 percent is anticipated,
due to non-voters signing petitions or some people signing twice.
"This is an amazing feat. I have to admit, less than a year ago I
never thought we'd see this day," Pollara wrote in a message to
volunteers and donors.
The Supreme Court heard arguments December 5 on a petition by
Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office contended that the petition
language does not comply with legal requirements. Florida's
Republican Governor Rick Scott opposes the ballot initiative, as do
the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Sheriff's
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Legal briefs by Bondi and other opponents said the ballot language
misleads voters by implying state law can supersede federal
marijuana statutes, and that the measure is so broad that the drug
could be prescribed for virtually any minor medical condition.
Former University of Florida law school dean Jon Mills argued,
however, that the amendment is tightly drawn so that only licensed
physicians could prescribe medical pot, and only for debilitating
United for Care argued in court that the amendment clearly sets
forth its intention and that physicians would not be allowed to
prescribe pot for frivolous health complaints.
Pollara estimated the November ballot campaign will cost up to $10
million, on top of $3 million already spent by Orlando trial lawyer
John Morgan, who paid much of the cost of volunteers circulating
petitions and the 10-cents-a-name certification fee.
Pollara estimated 6 million to 7 million voters will turn out in
Florida's November election. "We've been in signature mode for the
last few months," he said, "but we're now forming our general
election budget plan. It won't be cheap."
(Editing by David Adams and Gunna Dickson)
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