Medical marijuana will be back on the ballot this fall and it seems the opposition has gone up in smoke

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Medical marijuana will be back on the ballot this fall and it seems the opposition has gone up in smoke
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The money trail seems to prove this. So far this year, the Drug Free Florida Committee has only received a $1,000 contribution from one person, according to Florida Division of Elections records. People United for Medical Marijuana, the group associated with United for Care, received almost $240,000 in the first three months of 2016.

"I think we're going to win," Pollara says. "Serving sick and suffering people has been the core of this campaign."

The FSA hasn't taken an official position on the amendment. In February, the organization passed a resolution saying that the legalization of marijuana would "be contrary to the interests of the public health, safety and welfare," but also that the Florida Legislature should be "the exclusive forum to initiate and make appropriate changes to laws related to the legalization of medical marijuana." Additionally, Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre voiced his support for medical marijuana based on its therapeutic properties.

"Individual sheriffs have the right to tell the public whether they support or oppose a constitutional amendment," says FSA spokesman Adam Montgomery in an email. "FSA will continue to work with its partners to educate the public about the harms of drug use, and sheriffs can inform citizens about their position on constitutional amendments that will be before the voters in this fall."

The normally outspoken Sheriff Grady Judd hasn't come out and said publicly what he thinks of Amendment 2 this time around.

"Sheriff Judd was the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association in 2014, when the so-called 'medical marijuana' constitutional amendment was proposed," says Donna Wood, spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, in an email. "He helped lead a successful statewide coalition against the amendment – and the amendment failed. The Sheriff's term as the FSA president is over and he is not leading a statewide opposition to this year's amendment. However, he believes now, as he did then, that marijuana is not a medicine."

While the fight to pass Amendment 2 continues, there have been other developments in the legalization of medical marijuana that reflect changing attitudes at the state level. The Florida Legislature passed a measure this year that expands a 2014 law that legalized non-euphoric strains of marijuana. House Bill 307 allows terminally ill patients to have access to drugs, including full-strength marijuana, that haven't been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Although the 2014 law allowed five nurseries to grow marijuana for the entire state, administrative issues and lawsuits over licensing have bogged down the process. San Felasco Nurseries in Gainesville became the sixth dispensing organization after an administrative judge ruled in February that state officials wrongly rejected the nursery's application. Under HB 307, dispensing organizations that won legal challenges can also get licenses to start growing both low-THC and full-strength medical marijuana.

Lawmakers' attitudes on recreational marijuana are also changing, but legal reform has been limited to cities and counties. On Monday, Orlando's City Council voted 4-3 to approve an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana, making it a violation of city code and giving officers the option to issue civil citations. There will be a second reading of the ordinance at the council's next meeting May 9.

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