Florida medical marijuana and conservation fund initiatives surpass signature requirements

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January 16, 2014

By Ryan Byrne

Two Florida ballot initiative campaigns have declared victories today, as both have obtained more than enough signatures to place their respective measures on the November 2014 ballot. One campaign is advocating for medical marijuana legalization while the other is attempting to reinvigorate the Florida Land Trust Acquisition Fund (LTAF). The two campaigns are required to submit at least 683,149 valid signatures by February 1, 2014.

Conservation organizations have gathered 685,971 valid signatures for the Water and Land Conservation Fund Initiative.[1] The measure, upon voter approval, would dedicate thirty-three percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The initiative's language has already been ruled as accurate, concise and constitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. Supporters are now awaiting certification and a ballot number for they can officially declare that their initiative is on the ballot.[2] Pegeen Hanrahan, the campaign manager for Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, declared, “Nearly one million petitions signed and delivered to local supervisors of elections sends a message loud and clear that Floridians want to see our water sources and natural areas protected. When given the chance to vote on the amendment in November, we are confident that the answer will be a resounding 'Yes!"[3]

The measure regarding medical marijuana legalization has drawn more attention in the press and among political officials. People United for Medical Marijuana reported to have over 1.1 million signatures for the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. Unlike the other initiative, however, the vast majority of these signatures have not been verified by the Board of Elections. The Brandenton Herald expects election officials to throw out a few hundred thousand signatures as invalid.[4] Also unlike the other measure, the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the measure’s language and certain Florida officials are challenging the language. Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) filed a challenge to the Florida Supreme Court, saying, “The proposal hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless 'other conditions' specified by any physician. With no 'condition' off limits, physicians could authorize marijuana for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age. But rather than tell voters of this extraordinary scope, the summary uses language to prey on voters' understandable sympathies for Florida's most vulnerable patients — those suffering 'debilitating diseases.’”[5] Speaking on the number of signatures gathered, United for Care’s Brian Franklin stated, "This is an enormous achievement - but even though we still await the ruling of the state Supreme Court, we need to get right back to work. We must shift this now into campaign mode - and help educate the millions of Florida voters who will hopefully be allowed to have a choice in November."[6] Some commentators expect the medical marijuana legalization initiative to aid whoever becomes the Democratic candidate in the upcoming state gubernatorial election.[7]

See also