Apr 29, 2015
Miami Herald - The abrupt conclusion Tuesday to the Florida House's legislative session meant the end of the line for scores of bills that have yet to pass the chamber, including a long-shot proposal to legalize medical marijuana.
Jumping on news that the House had adjourned three days ahead of schedule, medical pot advocates declared the re-launch of their political campaign to get a constitutional amendment on the 2016 Florida ballot.
"Despite courageous leadership from Senators and Representatives in both houses and both parties, Tallahassee has failed us again," United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said in a statement. "Medical marijuana will be on the ballot in 2016 and the voters will pass what the legislature failed to."
The campaign quickly emailed supporters asking for financial contributions.
"We must, again, get almost 700,000 petitions signed and validated," the email reads. "But this time, we have more months to do it, a better informed populace, and momentum." Signature-gathering had been put on hold -- or at least not widely pursued -- during the annual 60-day session.
Pollara and the campaign's chief financial backer, Orlando trial attorney John Morgan
, had pitched the 2015 legislation as the only way for lawmakers to avoid another public vote on the issue in 2016. A 2014 referendum was backed by nearly 58 percent of voters but failed to meet the required 60-percent threshold. The advocates had particularly tried to appeal to Republicans by suggesting a cannabis amendment on a presidential ballot might benefit the Democratic nominee.
Other legislation that died Tuesday had been close to passage. That wasn't the case with medical marijuana, despite last-minute attempts to keep the bills alive.