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In 2014, measure fell just short of the 60 percent approval required for constitutional amendment

With nearly three-quarters of a million Floridians signing the petition, the Florida Supervisors of Elections has validated enough signatures to give voters the choice on whether or not to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing the use medical marijuana.

Just as it did in 2014, the measure will again appear as Amendment 2, when voter support fell just short of the required 60 percent approval to pass an amendment to the state constitution. The 2014 attempt faced challenges from state officials and earned just 58 percent of the vote. This time around, state officials have stayed relatively quiet on the issue.

The amendment collected 696,404 signatures, more than the 683,149 required to be on the ballot. Orlando-based United for Care has been collecting signatures since April 2015 to place the initiative on the ballot in 2016.  The organization is chaired by John Morgan, an influential Orlando attorney.

The group says they felt the language of the proposed amendment in 2014 led to its demise. This time, Ben Pollara, campaign manager United for Care says the new language of the amendment brings a more targeted message.

Here’s what’s new in the proposed 2016 amendment:

  • The original amendment allowed five medical marijuana patients per caregiver, but now it says the Department of Health decides the number of patients per caregiver.
  • The Department of Health can perform background checks on caregivers, per text of the amendment.
  • Parental consent is needed before a doctor can prescribe a minor medical marijuana, and the parent giving consent must be present in the doctor’s office.
  • Only people with debilitating diseases can be prescribed medical marijuana.

In its 2014 initiative, the political action committee People United for Medical Marijuana spent more than $7 million to get the measure passed. In its second attempt, the group has raised more than $4 million in the past year, with more than nine months left until the November general election.

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