Florida Proposal to Legalize Medical Cannabis Sputtering Along

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Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents will have to come out in force if a proposal to legalize medical marijuana stands any chance of seeing the light of day.

The proposal’s sponsors – a grassroots group called People United for Medical Marijuana (or PUFMM) – must get 676,811 signatures by Feb. 1 to get the issue on next year’s ballot.

They have a long way to go. A really long way. The group has gathered just 29,922 valid signatures to date, less than 5 percent of the needed total, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. Granted, PUFMM still has another three months to hit the total. But organizers will have to average nearly 50,000 valid signatures per week to reach the required level. Considering that the group hasn’t been able to get 50,000 John Hancocks over the past year despite numerous petition drives, it looks downright impossible.

It’s even more difficult when you consider that all of those signatures have to be validated. Often, a significant number of signatures are deemed invalid and thrown out – meaning organizers will have to gather 10% to 20% more than the bare minimum, just to be safe. That will be a very tall order for PUFMM.

The organization is also looking for “millions of dollars” in donations. Efforts to raise that kind of money in other, more MMJ friendly states have come up way short, and it appears the same thing is happening in Florida. Some reports show that PUFMM has raised just $30,000-$40,000 to date, well short of the desired total.

The petition – which you can read in its entirety here – would add an amendment to the state’s Constitution legalizing the cultivation, use, possession and sale of medical marijuana for patients with specified medical conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and Alzheimer’s. However, it leaves the door open to additional ailments as well, stipulating that patients could also get medical marijuana for “other diseases and conditions when recommended by a physician.”

Even if this grassroots effort fails, voters in Florida still could get the chance to weigh in on medical marijuana. A lawmaker recently submitted a resolution in the state House that – if approved – would put a proposal on the 2012 ballot calling for the legalization of medical marijuana.