TALLAHASSEE, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Organizers of a Florida campaign for medical use of marijuana say they expect to submit enough voter signatures this week to get the issue on ballots in time for the November election, adding further momentum to a national campaign to reform laws banning the drug.
The campaign hopes to obtain as many as 1.1 million signatures before a Feb. 1 deadline, said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of People United for Medical Marijuana.
State law provides that campaign organizers have to get 683,149 voter signatures validated by the counties, and almost one in three are rejected to failing to meet requirements, such as residency and age.
The petition drive is being bankrolled by wealthy Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan who has committed $3 million to the campaign, enabling organizers to hire professional canvassers to collect signatures.
If the petition is approved by 60 per cent of voters in November, Florida would become the first southern U.S. state to approve marijuana for medical use, joining some 20 other states, mostly in the west and the northeast.
Polls show the petition has a good chance of success. Attitudes toward marijuana use have shifted sharply in the United States. Colorado this month became the first state to regulate and sell marijuana for recreational use, with Washington set to follow suit later this year.