United for Care Director Ben Pollara: We're Pivoting From Medical Marijuana Petition to Get-Out-the-Vote Drive

Categories: Broward News

An organization is a terrible thing to waste. Especially if you're in the business of winning Florida elections and the organization is one that in six short months canvassed statewide, located more than 700,000 legally registered voters and got them to sign a petition to amend the state constitution. Think of the mailing lists!

Having placed the medical marijuana referendum on the 2014 ballot, United for Care (UFC) stands as a ready-made get-out-the-vote campaign. The organization is already shifting gears, with inevitable consequences for the 2014 governor's race. Here's what UFC executive director Ben Pollara this week told New Times about the battle ahead.

See also: Florida Supreme Court Approves Medical Marijuana Initiative

New Times: You're switching from petition-gathering to a get-out-the-vote drive, right?
Ben Pollara: That's certainly going to be part of what happens. We're transitioning into a full general election campaign. This has been grassroots from the beginning and it will continue to be grassroots through Election Day. We're gonna put a lot of focus on turning out our voters and make sure they get to the polls and that we're successful.

It's a partisan issue now, isn't it? Rick Scott opposes it; Charlie Crist supports it. How is anyone going to separate what you're doing from the Crist campaign?
Charlie Crist is going to be running for governor and we're trying to get an amendment passed. They're two separate issues.

No consultation back and forth? Would that be illegal, in fact?
There's very little that's illegal under Florida campaign law. I don't know what communications we will have back and forth with the Crist campaign. I've not had any coordination with them or any other campaign so far. Charlie needs to get 50% plus one and we need to get 60%. So we're going to need a lot of Republicans and a lot of independents, libertarians... So there may be some overlap in what our voters look like but it's definitely going to be two different campaigns.

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knowa1 topcommenter

Crist has saddled us with some of the strictest and most draconian pot laws that has perpetuated a modern day slavery.   Slavery today is now a violation of our constitution with the exception of prisons labor  and prohibition has more people of color in prison labor camps and the courts system than before the civil war.  Obama is our first president of color has the power with a stroke of his pen can end our country second most disgraceful period.

knowa1 topcommenter

Lets face it both Scott and Crist have been disastrous for florida cannabis culture, neither has stop the seeds of freedom and liberty.  However politician are realizing there is far more money in legal pot than there ever will be in the destructive law enforcement of it. And as the most brainwashed generation from yellow journalism are now leaving the scene the new seniors are boomer from the woodstock   generation and now retired and empty nested.  They remember their youth and pot was paramount to it.   It takes big money to run for Governor but Crist is going to have to do a Mea Culpa and come out  before the election on how he intends to remove these draconian laws he authored to get my vote.


We really cannot afford prohibition

June 2005

Over 500 leading economists, led by conservative icon Dr. Milton Friedman, called for a national debate about whether prohibition of marijuana is worth the cost. The occasion was a new report by Harvard University economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron estimating - probably conservatively - that replacing prohibition with a system of common-sense regulation could mean $10 billion to $14 billion per year in reduced government spending and new revenues.

"We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods," Friedman and colleagues wrote. "At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition."

Miron's full report and the open letter are available at www.prohibitioncosts.org .

A good case can be made that prohibition costs too much -- in money, but also in ruined lives and harm done to society. But first, let's talk about dollars:

* Using figures from a variety of federal and state government sources, Miron estimates that replacing prohibition with regulation would save $7.7 billion annually in government spending on enforcement.

* Taxes on regulated marijuana sales could generate $2.4 billion if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods. If - as seems more likely - marijuana were taxed like alcohol and tobacco, tax receipts would be about $6.2 billion, and conceivably more, depending on the tax rate.

Such estimates, of course, aren't perfect. Available data is incomplete, so economists must make assumptions that could turn out to be either too high or too low. 
Miron's numbers may be conservative: He didn't attempt to quantify every possible saving, and in one major expense category - the number of inmates locked in state prisons on marijuana charges - the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy just released an estimate 60 percent higher than the one Miron used.

These are not trivial sums. In the words of the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, "A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and soon you're talking about real money" -- money that could be used to fix our schools, strengthen Social Security, or protect America against terrorism.

For example, the $30 billion cost of securing thousands of Soviet-era "loose nukes" -- unsecured nuclear weapons that security experts fear might fall into terrorist hands -- could be paid for in less than three years with the savings and revenues generated by marijuana regulation.

One year's savings alone would cover the full cost of port security measures required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, estimated by the Coast Guard at $7.3 billion to secure 3,150 port facilities and 9,200 vessels.

What are we getting for the billions spent on marijuana prohibition? We certainly haven't gotten marijuana off the streets. Last year, 85.8 percent of high school seniors told government survey-takers that marijuana was "easy to get" - a figure that has remained virtually unchanged for three decades. While marijuana arrests nearly tripled form 1991to 2003 ( the latest figures available ), the number of teens trying marijuana for the first time went up by over 50 percent.

According to the federal government, nearly 15 million Americans use marijuana at least once a month. That's equal to every man, woman and child in the states of Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana and Oklahoma combined. It's nearly as many Americans as will buy a new car or truck this year. It's a huge market.

Prohibition cannot and will not make that market go away. It has simply given criminals and violent gangs an exclusive franchise, and society pays the price every day: In unregulated drug dealers with no incentive not to sell to kids, in clandestine grows hidden in national parks and surrounded by booby traps, in the bloodshed that inevitably comes with prohibition - just as it did during America's ill-fated experiment with alcohol prohibition during the 1920s.

These 500 economists are right: There might be a better way, and it's time to start talking about it.
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If more old ass grannys& soccer moms vote, FL will lose it again. THEY NEED TO GET SMART voters out, the educated younger voters who know its safer than that devil liquor that kills people and gets them wasted in the gutter on a daily basis. you dont see stoner bums on the street, you see alcoholic and hard drug users..... 21 and older only, that is the only bad thing.. its not good to be smoked by kids, that is obvious and we can all agree it should only be given to kids with cancer and severe conditions (like denver, they require more paperwork and doctor approvals for kids using it, but 21 is easier to get for grown adults)


I’m totally in support of legalizing marijuana for medical use.I can claim two lasting effects from college sports injuries (girls’ basketball can be rough) as perfectly valid reasons for using pot to alleviate the pain that I live with daily. But something doesn’t smell right. I’m wary of former Republican Charlie Crist's support for legalizing pot for medical use.How come Crist, who, as governor, enacted the nation's harshest law to punish users of marijuana, is supportive of it now?It’s a very interesting motive and it ain’t about our benefit.I read where political strategist Roger Stone has uncovered the true motive behind Crist’s new support for pot. Crist is part of John Morgan’s plan to make millions from the legalization of marijuana.http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/future-medical-marijuana-florida-john-morgans-secret-agenda


@foxatwork  How can you justify spending the money on Cannabis Prohibition while we allow Alcohol???

There is no sustainable, logical argumnet. 


@foxatwork You failed to see the revised bill... that entire article is assumptions based off of the bill. Now that the revised version is out, it clearly shows "caregivers" and a caregiver may have 5 patients. Therefor, at home grows is allowed based off of what I have seen in the new revised version going to the voters. Besides, if it went to pharmacies and corporations only, there would be a MASSIVE market that undercuts their prices and gives the same product for much cheaper. Black Market will destroy the pharmacies, basically.... I know of 1 or 2 states that already do this, and low and behold, there is an even more "grey area" legality blackmarket going on since the states are ignorant on what to do with the insurance/legality aspect of it all. They need to talk with ACTUAL GROWERS, instead of using some dummy corporation or something to decide what the rules should be.... thus creating ignorant laws that don't work for actual users. Taxes should remain under 25% so the blackmarket will be unable to undercut the legal sellers. It's so simple to do, they just need to realize its coming --  whether they want to or not, too bad, its coming. Work with people and make laws with people who actually KNOW and have worked in this scene. Assuming things just creates more headaches to fix in the future

fire.ant topcommenter

@foxatwork Roger Stone imputes low motives to everyone except Roger Stone. Floating a theory about Morgan without any objective evidence whatsoever, the only thing Stone "uncovered" is what a slimeball Stone is.


@fire.ant Look at his name "Fox at work" --- republican undercover old man attempting to downplay the legalization movement finally taking over for the pill popping scene we have become in the nation "pill mills" are horrible and are a gateway drug to heroin (see: pills to heroin users, huge surge since pills became easier to get in FL) The only person with an agenda in this thread is "Fox at Work". Faux News muppet I bet

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