Fla. medical marijuana petitions pile up as deadline looms - WFLA News Channel 8

Fla. medical marijuana petitions pile up as deadline looms

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United for Care volunteer Jim Duffie says he's collected hundreds of signed medical marijuana petitions. United for Care volunteer Jim Duffie says he's collected hundreds of signed medical marijuana petitions.
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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The group pushing for medical marijuana use in Florida says it's collected enough signatures to get the question to voters on November's ballot. Elections offices across the state are racing to verify all the signatures before the Feb. 1 deadline.

It's all hands on deck at the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, where more than 76,000 medical marijuana petitions have been dropped off since August. About 40,000 of which have come in since Christmas.

"It's a tremendous workload," said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. "Our entire office is on it right now. Everyone. You walk up to my receptionist, you're going to see the receptionist is working on verifying petitions."

United for Care volunteer Jim Duffy says he's personally collected hundreds of signatures.

"When I'm able, I've been going out and getting petitions signed," explained Duffy.

Duffy says he was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease Sarcoidosis in 2002, after breathing in soot by the World Trade Center on 9/11. He also suffers from a slew other debilitating diseases, including PTSD and Type II Diabetes.

"For those 10 medications that I'm on, I have 542 side effects. The worst one being death," said Duffy.

Duffy says he would like to be able to use medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs and is hoping the issue will be brought to voters later this year.

The proposed constitutional amendment needs more than 683,000 valid voter signatures to make it to the ballot. United for Care volunteers say more than 900,000 signatures have been collected statewide.

Although there's a back load at many elections offices, volunteers like Duffy say they'll continue to collect signatures through the end of January. By law, elections offices have 30-days to verify signatures on petitions.

If enough signatures are validated by the deadline, supporters still face another challenge. The Florida Supreme Court hasn't ruled yet if the proposed ballot language is legal.


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