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Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Friends in high places may help marijuana campaign cause

Local supporters of medical marijuana in Florida want the ban on the substance to go up in smoke, and the movement may be coming closer to UF soon.

Brandon Harvey, the president of NORML Gators and a 19-year-old UF neuroscience sophomore, said the club is bringing the movement more prominence on campus.

The group, which supports the legalization of medical marijuana, is planning to start a concentrated effort to collect signatures, including tabling in free-speech zones, he said.

The movement has recently attracted some big names in support of the measure, including attorney John Morgan, of Morgan and Morgan law firm and chairman of United for Care, an organization supporting the proposal to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Morgan said he chose to join the organization because he’s seen medical marijuana benefit his father and brother.

“I just thought if no one stepped up in Florida, we’d go another two years or four years or 10 years,” he said. “So I decided to be the one.”

In his Florida radio spots, Morgan said he’s looking for an “army of angels” to support the measure.

He lists a personal email address in the ad, which he said receives thousands of messages per day.

The law is very similar to the contended California law, but Harvey said he believes it would become more strict after its passage through Florida legislation.

“It would function basically exactly like California’s does,” he said. “Medicine would be purchased through registered cannabis vendor outlets and could be prescribed by a licensed Florida physician.”

The proposal was sent to the attorney general of Florida, where she will review the constitutionality of the language of the bill. After that, the proposal would need 700,000 signatures by February 2014, Morgan said.

Alexander Gimbel, a 19-year-old UF political science sophomore and a volunteer coordinator for United For Care, said about 70 percent of Floridians indicated they would support medical marijuana if it were on the ballot.

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The Tabernacle of Hedonism, a local group, is also talking about supporting the initiative.

Paul Cohen, 54, who is known as Reverend Angeldust to the Tabernacle, said the group is considering tabling at UF and in Gainesville to drum up support for the proposal, which he calls “a good cause.”

But not everyone agrees.

Shruti Kadam, a 20-year-old UF sociology junior, said she worries some could take advantage of the law.

“I think that the biggest drawback to it is that people who don’t really need it claim that they do,” she said. “It’s an excuse for some users when they could just be using safer, healthier alternatives.”

A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/9/2013 under the headline "Support from high places may puff up marijuana campaign"

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