Florida Lawsuit Challenges Regulators’ Failure to Fully Implement Medical Marijuana Law

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Florida Lawsuit Challenges Regulators’ Failure to Fully Implement Medical Marijuana Law | NORML

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Florida patients and growers have filed a lawsuit over regulators’ failure to meet deadlines associated with the state’s 2016 voter-approved medical cannabis law. Plaintiffs argue that the state Department of Health has failed to issue licenses for additional dispensaries despite an October deadline. “Florida law required the DOH to issue ten additional licenses by October […]

Florida Lawsuit Challenges Regulators’ Failure to Fully Implement Medical Marijuana Law | The Daily Chronic

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Florida Medical Marijuana Amendment 2 Polling at 77%

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Florida Medical Marijuana Amendment 2 Polling at 77% | Thomas H. Clarke

MIAMI BEACH, FL — Florida voters strongly support a proposed ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, according to a recent poll of likely voters. The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research on behalf of United for Care, the organization sponsoring measure, found that 77%  of likely voters support the  “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” Amendment 2. […]

Florida Medical Marijuana Amendment 2 Polling at 77% | The Daily Chronic

The Daily Chronic

Cannabis Career Institute comes to South Florida to promote jobs and business opportunities in the growing cannabis industry

Miami, FL (PRWEB) January 29, 2014


The first CCI seminar in Florida has forced CCI organizers to expand the classroom facility as Floridians embrace the landmark Supreme Court ruling. As cannabis opportunities increase for individuals and small businesses, CCI plans to schedule more training seminars and events throughout Florida.

Robert Calkin, President and Founder of the Cannabis Career Institute, along with cultivation experts Jason “The Bud Whisperer” Scoby and Gary Maciel, will be in Miami this weekend to conduct a one day workshop about jobs and investment opportunities in the exploding cannabis industry.

On Saturday, February 1, at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel, 3900 North West 21st Street in Miami (33142), budding cannabis entrepreneurs are invited to attend a day-long Cannabis Career Institute seminar covering every sector of this evolving industry. Since 2009, CCI has helped hundreds of people start businesses and find jobs growing, selling, manufacturing and servicing the marijuana industry. A variety of marijuana specialists will be presenting their knowledge and expertise and be available for interviews.

“CCI Seminar interest from cannabis-minded businessmen and women all over the country has been tremendous,” said Calkin. “As the cannabis legalization movement continues to envelope the nation, more and more people are seeing the exciting and potentially lucrative business opportunities available. Helping people understand the industry and preparing them to pursue their goals is what we do.”

Registration information can be found at http://cannabiscareerinstitute.com

As seen on NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS among others, the Cannabis Career Institute (CCI) of North Hollywood, California will continue on its nationwide tour with future stops per the following schedule:

Miami – February 1

Los Angeles — February 8

New Hampshire – February 8

Las Vegas — February 15

Philadelphia – February 16

Sacramento – February22

Buffalo – February 22

New York – February 23

Warwick, RI — March 1

Boston — March 2

Piscataway, NJ – April 5&6

Cannabis is an industry that shows robust promise in the current job market. It is estimated that job openings in the cannabis industry have grown over 3,000 percent since 2005. Cannabis-related business ownership has also shown massive growth over the last few years.

“There is no other industry on the planet right now that is growing as rapidly as the cannabis business,” said Gary Lane, CCI’s Sales and Marketing Director. “If someone is looking for a career in marijuana or wants to learn how the industry works, the one day CCI workshop is an excellent primer. Not only does one receive valuable instruction and information but what also usually happens is a “class-bonding” dynamic. More often than not, students of each of the classes form their networking and support group that turns into a valuable and life-long resource.”

Eighteen states plus Washington D.C. have medical cannabis laws and two states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Eight additional states have medical laws pending. During a conference call with state governors on August 29th, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US Department of Justice would allow the marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect.    This has launched a nationwide conversation about dismantling cannabis prohibition as many marijuana-friendly municipalities, counties and states are now generating enormous amounts of revenue from taxes and business licensing fees.

Since 2009 CCI has specialized in the business of cannabis, teaching would-be entrepreneurs how to navigate the often-murky waters of starting up a cannabis business. CCI presents students with an objective expanse of options with step-by-step instruction on the process of starting a business. Delivery, Dispensary Management, Law, Compliance, Marketing and Advertising, Cultivation, Extracts and Cooking are all discussed in detail, providing students with many choices to fit their career goals and lifestyle.

ROBERT F. CALKIN is the author of STARTING YOUR OWN MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELIVERY SERVICE: THE MOBILE CAREGIVER’S HANDBOOK. Mr. Calkin is also a much sought-after cannabis business consultant and a widely- respected lecturer on the subject of creating cannabis businesses. One of the most well-connected businessmen in the industry, Mr. Calkin has helped create literally hundreds of cannabis businesses throughout the continent. He also created his own Green Dot delivery service in Los Angeles in 1988. Mr. Calkin was also a chief organizer of attendees at one of the first Smoke-Ins on the Mall in Washington D.C. in 1976 as well as the Marijuana March to the White House in 1984. As one of the original members of the American Hemp Council in 1988 with Chris Conrad and Jack Herer, Mr. Calkin has always been at the forefront of cannabis advocacy. His band Rude Awakening has done numerous concerts benefitting the legalization of marijuana and actively promotes this message on their CDs and promotional materials. He was also asked to be a consultant on the TV show “WEEDS”. He is the professor of Delivery 102 at Oaksterdam University and his book is used as the definitive curriculum on the subject. He founded Cannabis Career Institute in 2009 and Cannabis State University in 2010 and is President and CEO of both. In 2011, Mr. Calkin created Cannajobs, a Monster.com for the Cannabis industry that has been featured on the Drudge Report, the Daily Mail and the New York Times. He is also the host of “Careers In Cannabis” a talk show that features the top names in cannabis business. . Robert Calkin has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, CBS News, Varney and Company and featured in articles on Yahoo, Associated Press, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, The Digital Journal, et al.


Known nationwide as “The Bud Whisperer”, Jason Scoby has opened and managed dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries. With his amazing ability to assess the quality and origin of any marijuana strain, Jason sets a standard that all dispensary personnel will want to emulate.


Gary Maciel has been growing marijuana for over 40 years. An expert in energy efficiency and master of innovation, his ability to customize grow spaces is unrivaled.

From outdoor, green house, light deprivation green house, light deprivation supplemental green house controlled environment, indoor hydroponics, aireoponics, soil and soiless drip and flow systems, aquaponics ebb and flow, rockwool and soil, deep water culture, bubble flow, flood and drain, drain to waste and vertical grows – and using lighting and fertilizers of all types — Gary currently oversees more than 30 medical marijuana grow operations all over the United States.

He frequently lectures at Cannabis Career Institute seminars about advanced grow techniques. Ideal for the home closet grower or warehouse operations, Gary’s advice will help increase current yields or develop a strategy to diversify your yield.

Gary’s teaching philosophy is simple — make growing easy to do. Students can expect to learn how to improve yield, taste, potency, duration of effects and perpetual growing as well as valuable insights concerning harvesting, drying, curing and preparation for short and long term storage.

Gary Maciel, Grow Expert with the Cannabis Career Institute, is taking his decades of expertise in this field to the public in what is unquestionably a growth industry within our sluggish economy.

For more information, contact:

Gary Lane

Marketing Director



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Marijuana Business Training To be Held in Gainesville, Florida this Saturday with Cannabis Career Institute

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Gainesville, FL (PRWEB) May 16, 2014

Students in Gainesville, Florida are invited to learn about the cannabis industry this Saturday from medical marijuana business training experts with the Cannabis Career Institute.

Students will learn about the industry from instructors who have been involved in the medical marijuana business sectors in California, Washington and Colorado. CCI has been actively teaching medical marijuana business training to entrepreneurs across the country since 2009.

With Florida laws changing rapidly, entrepreneurs are finding that understanding the industry is the first step needed in order to create a successful business. CCI classes provide students the proper knowledge required to get started ahead of potential passage of medical marijuana legalization in Florida.

Polls are showing that an overwhelming majority of Florida residents are in favor of Marijuana as Medicine. Should the state legalize medical marijuana, as expected, a wide variety of business opportunities will emerge and entrepreneurs will need to learn an extensive amount of knowledge to enter the industry. CCI classes provide business training information for the industry, in a very comfortable setting that allows students to learn, network and even request specialized one-on-one consulting from the instructors.

Robert F. Calkin, the founder of Cannabis Career Institute, is a Delivery Specialist who teaches Delivery 101 at Oaksterdam University. He is also the author of “Starting Your Own Medical Marijuana Delivery Service; The Caregivers Handbook”, actively worked with Jack Herer in the American Hemp Council and has been an outspoken activist for Marijuana Legalization across the United States for several decades. Calkin created Cannabis Career Institute in 2009 to help educate individuals on compliance regulations, business implementation, best practices and procedures for the cannabis industry. CCI classes provide information on opening up a medical marijuana dispensary, starting a grow operation for medical marijuana, learning how to set up an edibles operation and how to start a delivery service for medical marijuana patients. Students that attend the all day class are provided with detailed information that allows them to properly organize their business agenda and learn what it will take to make a proper infrastructure work.

The Cannabis Industry as a whole has been called a 600 billion dollar industry and has gathered a lot of interest for expanding cannabis education. With this new industry also comes the potential for new jobs, new business opportunities and a variety of new services. The cannabis industry is expected to come to Florida after November and entrepreneurs need to learn the best way to get involved.

Cannabis Career Institute is welcoming media to the class – outside of the classroom to speak with instructors. For more information on Media Contact Call (800) 753-2240.

Florida Action Alert: Help Legalize Industrial Hemp Farming, Nullify Federal Ban

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Florida Action Alert: Help Legalize Industrial Hemp Farming, Nullify Federal Ban
Florida HB363 and SB902 would legalize industrial hemp for production within the state of Florida, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same. HB363 must pass through the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, and SB902 …
Read more on Tenth Amendment Center (blog)

Hemp pioneer fields questions at Ag Expo
Cory Gardner announced he was co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. If approved, the measure would not only legalize industrial hemp for commercial production, but it would also exclude the non-psychoactive cannabis plant from the …
Read more on Cortez Journal

Marijauana School Cannabis Career Institute comes to Florida, California and Pennsylvania

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(PRWEB) December 07, 2014

The Cannabis Career Institute is teaching eager business entrepreneurs in Florida, Pennsylvania, and California. Classes will be held on December 14th in Orlando at the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport, Philadelphia at the Clarian Hotel and Conference Center, and San Diego at the California Hampton Inn. Classes run one day from 9-7 with a one-time entry fee that grants access to all classes offered nationally.

In the 2014 fall elections Fox announced Florida missed the 60% needed to pass the medical marijuana program. This does not deter advocates from fighting for legalization nor companies using this time to become established. Pennsylvania is on the waiting list for the legislative vote for medical legalization, however a draft medical marijuana program has been created outlining the basic elements. As seen on NORML’s website California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and looks to legalize recreational use within the next two years.

Instructors cover what it takes to run certain cannabis companies such as dispensaries, growing operations, baking edibles and more. Each class adheres to the state in which it is being taught addressing the unique laws on hemp and cannabis. Following the East Coast Cannabis Expo in New York City CCI has gained more supporters such as Governor Diane Savino who sponsored the event and spoke on the many benefits medical marijuana would provide for the country.

The North Hollywood based Cannabis Career Institute has been teaching thousands of entrepreneurs skills needed to succeed in the marijuana industry. Facilitators with years of experience in the business will teach students the basic start up of a company including marketing, business models and relevant laws and regulations. CCI has spoken to NBC, CBS and Huffington Post among many others about how their classes have spread nationally offering the first seminars of their kind.

CCI continues to expand working with other advocacy groups offering information at classes, conventions, and online. To enroll into the institute there’s a one time all access fee of $ 299 with classes year around nationally. For more information and scheduling please call Robert Calkin 240.338.8785 or email: kimmoffattcci(at)gmail(dot)com To find out more about Cannabis Career Institute go to the website for details: http://www.cannabiscareerinstitute.com

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ForeverGreen Worldwide Corporation Hosts Major Regional Meeting in South Florida

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Pleasant Grove, Utah (PRWEB) January 14, 2015

ForeverGreen Worldwide Corporation (OTCBB: FVRG), a leading direct marketing company and provider of health-centered products, today announced the company will be hosting a regional meeting for members and leaders in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday, January 24, 2015.

The event, ForeverGreen’s first corporate-sponsored regional event, will allow area members, leaders and interested parties to learn more about the company and its products. Many of the company’s most successful leaders and members will be in attendance. Additionally, ForeverGreen’s management team will have the opportunity to meet with those local members and leaders to discuss how to enhance business in the region.

Five of ForeverGreen’s senior leadership team will be at the event, including Ron Williams, CEO and founder; Blake Schroeder, President of Europe; Jeff Graham, President of North America; Craig Smith, General Manager; and Randy Crane, Director of Recognition.

ForeverGreen is excited to host its meeting on the East Coast as many local members and leaders, who have been unable to travel to Utah in the past, will be in attendance. Guests and prospective members will have the opportunity to learn the scientific benefits and competitive advantages of many of the company’s products. ForeverGreen will also have members of its investor relations team on hand to create awareness and visibility for the public company. They will be available to provide information and answer any questions from shareholders and potential shareholders.

For more information on the event and tickets, please visit http://www.fgxpress.com/blog/january-regional-event-fort-lauderdale-florida/.

ForeverGreen Worldwide Corporation develops, manufactures and distributes an expansive line of all natural whole foods and products to North America, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America, including their new global offerings, PowerStrips, SolarStrips and BeautyStrips. They also offer Azul and FrequenSea(TM), whole-food beverages with industry exclusive marine phytoplankton, the Versativa line of hemp-based whole-food products, immune support and weight management products, Pulse-8 powdered L-arginine formula, TRUessence(TM) Essential Oils and Apothecary, 24Karat Chocolate(R) and an entire catalog of meals, snacks, household cleaners and personal care products.


Forward-Looking Statement

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that certain statements in this release are “forward-looking statements” and involve both known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Such uncertainties include among others, certain risks associated with the operation of the company described above. The company’s actual results could differ materially from expected results.

Med Marijuana Advocates Meet Florida Ballot Goal

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A petition campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida has gathered enough signatures to put the issue on November’s general election ballot. Just after noon Friday, county elections officials had validated 710,508 signatures — enough to force a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow growth, sale and possession of marijuana for medical uses.

The Florida Supreme Court could still reject the ballot language — and any vote along with it — but organizers expressed jubilation Friday that an expensive, last minute push at least fulfilled the signature requirements for citizen initiated amendments.

“I’ve spent $4 million, hired the best legal minds in the state of Florida, rallied my army of angels and collected more than 1.1 million signatures in five or six months,” said Orlando trial attorney John Morgan, who took over a small, grass roots petition campaign last year and gave it the clout to get on the ballot.

By law, constitutional amendment campaigns for 2014 require signatures from 683,149 registered voters. Morgan’s group, United for Care, added more than 50,000 signatures Friday to exceed that mark.

Morgan, who has paid about three-quarters of United for Care’s expenses, said the petition drive cost twice as much as he planned, largely because signatures lagged by December and the campaign had to gear up.

By paying professional collectors as much as $4 a signature, United for Care began dumping hundreds of thousands of petitions on beleaguered county elections officials. At the 1.1 million mark, the campaign shut down two weeks ago, then waited to see how many signatures actually came from registered voters.

The rejection rate ran about 30 per cent — typical for large petition campaigns. Still, the Florida Division of Elections reported 50,000 new signature validations on Friday, putting the total over the top.

The campaign also met its other requirement: hitting signature targets in at least 14 of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.

The Tampa Bay area proved to be fertile ground: 165,042 valid signatures came from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, nearly one-fourth of the statewide total.

Save Our Society from Drugs, a St. Petersburg advocacy group, down played the significance of Friday’s signature count.

“This really doesn’t change anything,” said Executive Director Calvina Fay. “We are still waiting to hear from the Supreme Court about the ballot language. We believe the language is misleading and are hopeful that the justices will rule soon.

“This also doesn’t change the fact that the initiative is riddled with loopholes that would create de facto legalization in our state. We believe that if this gets to the ballot, Floridians will vote wisely and reject it.”

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Constitutional amendment proposals in Florida require 60 percent of votes cast to pass, but polls show widespread support for medical marijuana.

The measure also could affect the governor’s race. Republican Gov. Rick Scott opposes medical marijuana while former Republican governor Charlie Crist — the presumptive Democratic candidate who works at Morgan’s firm — favors it.

In the Legislature, Republican majority leadership has so far squelched attempts to legalize medical marijuana by statute.

That could change this year with a bill to legalize Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis strain that seems to help children with seizure disorders without getting them high. The idea has garnered some Republican support, but some fear opening the door to wider use.

The Florida Supreme Court has until April 1 to decide if United for Care’s ballot language is confusing and illegal. If the court agrees, United for Care’s signatures will be invalid. Any future ballot initiatives would have to start from scratch and could not come to a vote until 2016 at the earliest.

Source: Tampa Bay Times (FL)
Author: Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writer
Published: January 24, 2014
Copyright: 2014 St. Petersburg Times
Website: http://www.tampabay.com/
Contact: http://www.sptimes.com/letters/

Morgan Says Marijuana is Safer

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Claiming that medical marijuana would be a safer, non-addictive and more-effective alternative to OxyContin, Orlando attorney John Morgan condemned the prescription pain killer in a speech Friday to argue that many of its users would be far better off smoking pot.

Speaking to the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, Morgan said that OxyContin, a commonly prescribed – and abused – pain medication, kills 16,000 people a year and addicts many more. He claimed marijuana – which is illegal in Florida and most states – is comparatively harmless and more effective.

“It is truly a disgrace what goes on,” said Morgan, best known for his Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm, who chairs a statewide campaign to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the 2014 Florida ballot. “OxyContin is a poison that is put into our system by pharmaceutical companies that make billions and billions of dollars.”

OxyContin is a brand-name drug whose active ingredient is oxycodone, an opioid analgesic. The Centers for Disease Control reported in February that there were 16,651 opioid analgesics overdose deaths nationally in 2010.

However, a statewide law-enforcement crackdown on illegal sales and use has cut the number of oxycodone-related Florida deaths by 41 percent, to 735 in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Still, oxycodone remains the leading cause of overdose deaths in the state.

Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, did not immediately respond Friday to Morgan’s speech.

Morgan’s point was to make marijuana look good by comparison.

“One thing I think most of us accept as truth is medical marijuana works, and it works for a broad variety of illnesses and ailments,” Morgan said. “It’s helpful with ALS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, all sorts of chronic pain.”

Morgan chairs People United for Medical Marijuana, which is running a petition drive to get legalization on the November 2014 ballot. The group surpassed 100,000 signatures last month and has sent the proposed amendment language to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. It will then be reviewed by the state Supreme Court for ballot validation. People United would then have to gather at least 683,159 voter signatures.

Morgan has contributed $150,000 of the $248,000 that the campaign raised in the first six months of this year.

After his 35-minute speech, at least four Tiger Bay members approached Morgan privately to say that they or someone they know has cancer or some other ailment and were interested in his message. Morgan said his father, Ramon, used it while he was dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and esophageal cancer 20 years ago.

Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Author: Scott Powers, Staff Writer
Published: September 27, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Orlando Sentinel
Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/

Fla. Medical Marijuana Petition Pushes For 2014

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Michael Derigo arrived home from a trip to the grocery store June 25 to find half a dozen police cars surrounding his mobile home in Gibsonton. A neighbor had complained about his marijuana plants.

Since he was diagnosed with AIDS in 2004 and started on drugs to suppress it, Derigo, 59, has grown marijuana plants and juiced the leaves to drink. Unlike smoking dried leaves, he said, it doesn’t get him high.

“I’ve been able to keep my weight on where I’ve seen others just shrivel up and die,” he said.

Derigo has pleaded not guilty to possessing and manufacturing marijuana. His lawyer, Michael Minardi of Stuart, who specializes in such cases, plans a medical necessity defense.

“The war on drugs is a war on the American people,” Derigo said. “People sometimes do less time for murder than for marijuana.”

Cases such as his have led to a new petition drive to put a proposal on the 2014 ballot to legalize medical use of marijuana in Florida.

Similar efforts have failed before, but this one is backed by a new level of legal and political muscle — mainly from trial lawyer John Morgan of the Morgan & Morgan firm, a major Democratic political fundraiser. With his help, the United for Care campaign group has crafted a ballot proposal and hired petition gatherers.

Asked how much he’s willing to spend, Morgan, who’s known for seven-figure contributions to charitable and political causes, said simply, “As much as it takes.”

He plans to start running radio ads later this year; newspaper stories on the proposal have already drawn scores of volunteers, he said.

But the proposal could face high-powered opposition, possibly involving Republican political fundraiser, shopping center magnate and former ambassador Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg.

Sembler and his wife, Betty, are the founders of the charitable Drug Free America Foundation and a related public education group, Save Our Society from Drugs, which can act in political causes.

Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America, said discussions are starting on legal and political strategies against the initiative, but she didn’t want to go into details.

Asked whether he’ll be involved, Sembler would say only that if an opposition group “gets organized, I’ll make that decision then.” Betty Sembler couldn’t be reached for comment.

Morgan has a personal interest in the campaign.

His brother Tim, now 55, is a quadriplegic as result of an accident when he was a teenager and uses marijuana to control muscle spasms. Their father, who had esophageal cancer and emphysema, used it for nausea before his death.

His father “was just in agony, nauseated, sick,” Morgan said. “He was one of these guys who said, ‘Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs,’ but Tim said try it. Overnight he was able to sit up and eat meals. He was able to enjoy life. It made his last days more restful and calm.”

Controlling the spasms enables Tim to work for Morgan’s firm, he added.

“This isn’t Cheech and Chong,” Morgan said. “This is people who have ALS, bone cancer where the pain is unrelenting, MS where their body is withering away. It wasn’t party lights and strobe music with my dad and brother. It was just peace and lack of pain.”

Ben Pollara, a veteran South Florida Democratic political strategist prominent in the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama presidential campaigns and in Alex Sink’s 2010 gubernatorialrun, heads United for Care.

He and Morgan said their proposal is crafted to allow only tightly controlled, medically prescribed uses of marijuana, prohibiting home growing and and without contributing to recreational use — which critics say has happened in other states.

The potential for abuse will be a subject of debate in a referendum campaign, promised Fay. But before that can happen, the organizers face a tight deadline to get the proposal on the ballot. They need petition signatures equal to 8 percent of the 2012 presidential election vote, or 683,149, verified by local elections supervisors by Feb. 1. Allowing for invalid signatures and time for verification, that means getting nearly 1 million by early January, Pollara said.

Paid petition gatherers charge $3 per signature, but volunteers will supply some, Morgan said.

Another hurdle is state Supreme Court approval of the amendment.

Under the state Constitution, amendments proposed by citizen petitions, unlike those proposed by the state Legislature, must deal with a single subject. The court interprets that requirement strictly and has often used it to throw out proposed amendments.

The two-page marijuana amendment, which can be viewed at the www.unitedforcare.org, lists medical conditions for which marijuana may be prescribed; exempts it from mandatory insurance coverage; requires that the state Department of Health regulate dispensaries providing marijuana and related products; and sets up a system of state identification cards for prescribed users and their designated caregivers.

Pollara said he hopes to have 10 percent of the necessary signatures — the number required for Supreme Court review — in about a month.

He and Morgan took over a smaller-scale effort launched by a citizen activist, Kim Russell of Orlando, but decided to replace the amendment the group was pushing, ditch 30,000 signatures, and start from scratch.

“When we first met, John said this was not going to be a free-for-all, defacto legalization — it has to be a tightly controlled situation,” Pollara said.

They hired University of Florida law school professor Jon Mills, a former state House speaker whom Morgan called “the best constitutional lawyer in the state,” to rework the amendment with an eye toward Supreme Court approval.

Using money left over from a political committee he ran last year, Pollara commissioned a poll that found support for the measure topped 60 percent, Florida’s threshhold to pass a constitutional amendment.

An organized campaign could cut that level of support, but it would require substantial spending for advertising and voter outreach, said Fred Piccolo, a Republican political strategist.

Fay, with Drug Free America, said there will be a legal challenge to the wording before the Supreme Court and a campaign against the measure if it gets on the ballot.

She called medical marijuana “a scam” intended to lead to legalization for recreational use.

It’s dangerous, she contended, because users, already sick, risk ingesting an unregulated substance subject to contamination whose components and effects haven’t been rigorously studied.

“Just because somebody says it makes them feel good, where do we draw the line? Crack cocaine?” Fay said. “We once had people peddling crude oil as a medicine in this country. Think of Laetrile — it was a disaster,” she said, speaking of the cancer treatment banned as poisonous in most states.

There’s already an FDA-approved drug that includes the most sought after ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, Fay noted.

But advocates say this drug is a poor substitute, and other ingredients, notably cannabidiol, or CBD, provide some of the most important benefits with no psychoactive effect. Some grow strains rich with CBD but low in THC.

“We get emails from people all the time saying they were prescribed Marinol but couldn’t afford it, or it gets them stoned, whereas one or two puffs of marijuana doesn’t get them stoned and alleviates the symptoms,” Pollara said.

Marijuana user Derigo said his method of juicing the leaves calms nausea that would otherwise prevent him from eating, which would start the “downward spiral” of “AIDS wasting syndrome.” It also eases pain from nerve damage caused by shingles that struck while his immune system was depressed.

Formerly a quality control engineer, Derigo hasn’t worked for several years. He can’t afford the synthetic opiates prescribed at pain clinics, even if he wanted to take them, and the county health department, which provides his AIDS treatment, doesn’t give him anything effective for the nausea, he said.

Minardi, his lawyer, said he has handled about a dozen medical marijuana cases and has half a dozen pending. Prosecutors recently dropped charges against one, Robert Jordan of Parrish, charged with growing marijuana for his wife, who’s confined to a wheelchair with ALS.

Nearly all his marijuana clients are over age 50.

There have been suggestions that Morgan, who hopes to back former Gov. Charlie Crist in a 2014 race against Gov. Rick Scott, hopes the amendment campaign will spur turnout of young and liberal voters likely to oppose Scott.

In response, Morgan said, “I started thinking about this way before I knew that (Crist) would be in this position. I don’t think medical marijuana is going to motivate an 18-year-old. Legalizing it might.”

Morgan is right, according to officials with the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group for legal use of marijuana that has participated in several medical use and legalization campaigns.

“Legalization initiatives do seem to have an impact on young voter turnout, at least based on exit poll studies, but we haven’t seen the same dynamic on medical marijuana issues,” said political director Steve Fox.

A 2012 study found “a significant boost” in youth turnout in elections on legalization measures in Colorado in 2000 and Oregon and Washington in 1998, he said, but there’s been no indication of such an effect in the 2010 vote in Arizona on medical use. It passed by a razor-thin margin, 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent.

Copyright: 2013 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)

Source: Huffington Post (NY)
Author: William March, The Tampa Tribune
Published: August 5, 2013
Copyright: 2013 HuffingtonPost.com, LLC
Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/