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.
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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 . . . . . READ MORE
Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill into law Thursday legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois at an event at the University of Chicago, two state government sources told the Tribune today. Supporters say the four-year trial program here will be the strictest law of its kind in the nation.
For years, the measure had failed to gain traction at the Capitol, particularly in the House. But sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, was able to cobble together a simple majority in the spring to send the bill to the Senate, where a similar but less restrictive bill had passed in previous years.
As the legislation was gaining momentum, Quinn indicated that he would keep an “open mind” about the issue. Proponents took it as a positive sign from a governor who has displayed his liberal tendencies on issues ranging from abolishing the death penalty to supporting a gay marriage bill.
One reason Quinn said he was giving legalized pot more thought was that he was impressed by an injured military veteran who maintained marijuana provided him relief from war wounds.
Under the new law, which would t. . . . . READ MORE
Marijuana activist Sam Mellace hopes to be the first licensed medical marijuana producer in Canada after spending the past 10 years running his “pretty much” legal operation.
The Abbotsford, B.C., resident has been producing marijuana since 2002 for himself and three other medical users, in accordance with current laws.
But starting on April 1, 2014, authorized users will not be able to grow their own pot – they will have to get it from licensed producers.
Mr. Mellace finalized an application to Health Canada on Monday for his company, New Age Medical Solutions, and his lawyers plan to send it by courier on Tuesday.
“I just want to be able to dispense so I can finally start making some money instead of being in the hole,” he said. But he has stiff competition. For 13 years, Prairie Plant Systems Inc. has been the only company producing legal marijuana and seeds on contract to Health Canada. The company submitted an application earlier this month.
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To all appearances, Connecticut is well on the way to making medical marijuana available to people who are suffering from certain serious illnesses. Regulations have been drafted and will be voted on by a legislative committee next month. Physicians have thus far certified 660 patients as eligible for the palliative substance. Proposals for production facilities have surfaced in Watertown and Middletown, with others on the way.
But there remains one nagging, unresolved issue: It is still a federal crime to use, cultivate, dispense or possess marijuana. Indeed, since 2009 the Justice Department has conducted more than 170 aggressive raids in inie medical marijuana states, according to the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
Connecticut officials think they have crafted a strict, tightly regulated law that will not draw the attention of federal authorities. We hope they are right. The better option is to end the disconnect between state and federal laws, so people with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis. . . . . READ MORE
Illinois and New Hampshire are poised to pass some of the strictest medical-marijuana laws in the nation. They would join New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware in banning patients from growing their own pot, increasing oversight on commercial growers and distributors, and restricting doctors from prescribing the drug for general pain.
The new restrictions are a far cry from the laws passed in the late 1990s, including in California, Colorado and Oregon, which were more ambiguous and, in some cases, made acquiring medical-marijuana prescriptions relatively simple.
In Colorado, for example, of the roughly 107,000 residents approved to use medical marijuana, pain is the qualifying condition for more than 100,000 of them. And in California, medical-marijuana prescriptions have become relatively common, as doctors can prescribe the drug for any illness “for which marijuana provides relief.”
“It’s clear that if I had prop. . . . . READ MORE