South Florida Philanthropist Is The Second-Largest Donor For Medical Marijuana Push

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Thanks to a lot of hard workers hawking petitions in parking lots, not to mention the shifting pop cultural sands, it looks like Florida has a fighting chance for legalizing medical marijuana. Come November, we'll find out. But as with any political movement, despite best intentions and hopes, it's money that's really powering the show. And the funding trail behind the legalization effort leads right back to South Florida.

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"Professor of Cannabis" Is Ready to Teach Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs in Florida

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Medical Marijuana Tampa
Jeremy Bufford of Medical Marijuana Tampa
On Tuesday, I wondered aloud who was ready to make some money if medical marijuana becomes legal in Florida after November's vote. There was only one corporation with "marijuana" in its name listed in the state so far.

Since, then I heard from a few others who said they're waiting to see what happens with the vote or that they are purposely registering under names that don't have "marijuana" in the title because in other states that have legalized weed, it's been hard for pot businesses to get bank accounts. (While "drowning in cash" sounds like a great problem to have, there are crazy security concerns.) Don't worry, though -- pot entrepreneurs are out there salivating.

One man, Jeremy Bufford, proprietor of Medical Marijuana Tampa, has already pounced. He is preparing to open a chain of 15 dispensaries with a quality-control lab and next week will launch his school for medical marijuana workers and entrepreneurs. He has already hired five people and expects to hire 350 more, plus trigger a mini-real estate boom assuming the initiative passes and he signs leases on the properties he's already scoped out. His website is already advertising for 15 positions from "lead botanist" to "delivery driver" to "executive chef" to "professor of cannabis."

I spoke to Bufford at length about his preparations and predictions for the medical marijuana industry in Florida:

See also: Florida Supreme Court Approves Medical Marijuana Initiative

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Medical Marijuana: Who Will Profit? So Far, Only One "Marijuana" Corporation Is Listed in Florida

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court OK'd the language in a proposed ballot initiative, so Florida voters this November will get to vote on whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.

Surely, stoners compassionate medical professionals are going are going to come out in full force to vote this thing through and see that weed is enshrined in the state constitution. (I can't believe this is happening in my lifetime! Black president and weed in the constitution!)

So, next question: Who will profit?

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Florida Supreme Court Approves Medical Marijuana Initiative

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Photo by Philip Poston
In the week the Super Bowl is being played by two cities (Seattle, Denver) in states that legalize pot, Florida just got that much closer to being a part of the blaze.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved to have a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana be put on the ballot this November.

The court ruled 4-to-3 in favor of the ballot initiative on medical marijuana at 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

"By reading the proposed amendment as a whole," the judgement reads, "and construing the ballot title together with the ballot summary, we hold that the voters are given fair notice as to the chief purpose and scope of the proposed amendment, which is to allow a restricted use of marijuana for certain ―debilitating medical conditions."

See also: Florida Medical Marijuana Bill Author Jeff Clemens Says "It's About Compassion"

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Rick Scott Says He'll Vote Against Medical Marijuana

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"No medical marijuana for you EVER. NYAA!!"
In what is pretty much the least shocking news item you'll read all day, Gov. Rick Scott says he'll vote against the legalization of medical marijuana should it make it to the 2014 ballot.

And while 80 percent of Floridians are for the legalization of medical marijuana and Scott's popularity is slightly above getting a root canal and his likely challenger, Charlie Crist, has already publicly come out for medical weed, Scott remains steadfast in his GOPerness when it comes to the issue, essentially saying he understands people are sick and need it, but drugs are bad.

See also: Charlie Crist Says Medical Marijuana Is A Matter of Compassion


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Medical Marijuana Advocates Beat Their Goal, Collect 1.1 Million Petitions

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Photo by Philip Poston
The push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is one step closer today, as the People United for Medical Marijuana (United for Care) are claiming that they have officially collected 1.1 million petitions.

Last week, New Times reported that the group thought it had reached the 1.1 million mark. An email sent out Wednesday night by the United for Care campaign director, Ben Pollara, confirmed -- that the group has collected "over 1.1 million in all."

See also: John Morgan, Medical Marijuana Advocate, Spends $2.8 Million for the Final Push

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John Morgan, Medical Marijuana Advocate, Spends $2.8 Million for the Final Push

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Screen shot of Tampa Bay Times interview with Morgan, which you can watch below.
Orlando-based attorney and pro-medical marijuana advocate John Morgan has put $2.8 million into the effort to get the legalization of medical marijuana on the Florida ballot come November.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Morgan has given the folks at United for Care a $909,000 loan to advance the effort.

Morgan and United for Care have until February 1 to turn in 700,000 signatures to force a vote in November, and the lawyer is pushing hard and opening up his wallet as the deadline draws nearer.

See also: Charlie Crist's Medical Marijuana Stance: Will Floridians Care About His Flip-Flopping?

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Medical Marijuana: 12 Florida Counties Are Short on Petitions

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The push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is nearing its final days, and the group responsible for collecting the petitions to force a vote in November is driving hard to the hoop to make that happen.

United for Care, the group behind the massive petition drive, has until February 1 to turn in 700,000 signatures.

"It looks like we have around 1.1 million," Ben Pollara, campaign director for United for Care, tells New Times.

But the question becomes how many of those 1.1 million signatures are legit enough to be accepted by the Secretary of State?

See also: There's Only One Week to Sign and Mail in Medical Marijuana Petitions

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Medical Marijuana Advocates Making Strides as Supreme Court Ponders a Ruling

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According to campaign-finance reports for November, lawyer and pro-medical marijuana advocate John Morgan has put more than $500 grand into the People United for Medical Marijuana campaign.

All told, he's put in about $972,125, bringing this thing almost to a cool million.

Meanwhile, United for Care is launching its "day of action" this weekend, looking to collect more signatures from Floridians, all while the Florida Supreme Court ponders the language in the ballot and whether to allow the state to choose if medical marijuana should be legalized.

See also: Medical Marijuana Petitions Head to Supreme Court

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Today: Supreme Court Hearing on Medical Marijuana

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Today is pretty much Super Bowl Sunday for the medical marijuana issues here in Florida, at least for the next year. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over the 75 words proponents want to include on next year's ballot, an initiative that would open the doors for doctors to prescribe the good green in needed cases.


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