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Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writer

Stephen Nohlgren

Stephen writes about the Tampa Bay Rays' quest for a new baseball stadium, aging and other topics.

Phone: (727) 893-8442, or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8442

Email: nohlgren@tampabay.com

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  1. Florida medical marijuana supporters will try again on 2016 ballot

    State Roundup

    The group that put medical marijuana on the Florida ballot this year — and fell just short of passing it — intends to launch a new constitutional amendment campaign shortly.

    "We are swiftly mobilizing a new petition push to get medical marijuana" on the next general election ballot, United for Care director Ben Pollara told supporters this week in a fundraising announcement.

    A constitutional amendment would not be necessary if the Legislature approves medical marijuana by statute, but "we cannot rely on that," Pollara said. "We are going to pass a medical marijuana law in Florida by the end of 2016."...

    Larry Heiny of Sarasota rouses the crowd after a USF medical marijuana rally Oct. 7 at the Marshall Student Center as part of the United for Care Medical Marijuana October Bus Tour.
  2. Officials: St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays near deal to allow Hillsborough stadium search

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays are nearing an agreement granting the team's long-standing wish to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, people who have talked recently to the mayor say.

    Kriseman "would like to get it done within the next month but definitely before Christmas'' so he can bring it to the City Council for approval, Council Chairman Bill Dudley said last week....

    St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Bill Dudley.
  3. John Morgan talks about why Florida's medical marijuana amendment failed at the polls

    Blog

    Attorney John Morgan's post-mortem and miscellaneous reflections on Amendment 2, the medical marijuana measure that won a majority of votes Tuesday, but not the 60 percent needed to succeed:

    1. Blame the older voters: "People 65 and older really did us in,'' he told reporters Wednesday. "People 75 and older don't know the difference between marijuana, LSD and cocaine. They just think it's a drug and it's bad.''...

  4. Florida voters just say no to medical marijuana

    Elections

    Medical marijuana may be spreading across the nation, but it will not gain a southern beachhead in Florida this year.

    Though Amendment 2 once appeared to enjoy widespread support and did win a majority of votes Tuesday, it failed to clear 60 percent as required for constitutional amendments.

    "We are very happy that our quality of life here in Florida is going to be preserved,'' said Calvina Fay, executive director of St. Petersburg's Drug Free America Foundation. "We are not going to be seeing pot shops everywhere. We are not going to see opportunities for marijuana to be promoted for our children. We are happy the voters in our state took time to actually read the amendment and vote smart.''...

    Frances Sansone, 42, of Brooksville, an advocate for Amendment 2, holds a poster in support of medical marijuana while waving at traffic on Spring Hill Drive on Tuesday. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. John Morgan vows to try again if Florida's medical marijuana amendment fails

    Elections

    Florida medical marijuana honcho John Morgan hopes for a victory on Amendment 2 when polls close on Tuesday. But a loss may not end the campaign, Morgan told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. As long as the vote is close to the required 60 percent approval threshold, Morgan said, he will try again in 2016.

    "I plan to win this,'' he said, saying his internal polls show it winning by a thin margin. "But if I lose a battle, I can damn sure still win the war.''...

    John Morgan says his organization anticipates Amendment 2 earning a slight victory on Tuesday, but that if he loses the battle he can win the war.
  6. Florida medical marijuana fight draws more cash and a negative poll

    Blog

    Heading into the home stretch before Election Day, both supporters and opponents of Florida's medical marijuana amendment initiative have pulled in significant donations, enough to fuel a few more TV and radio ad spots. Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has contributed another $1 million to the VoteNo2 campaign, bringing his total to $5 million.

    United for Care, the main sponsor of the measure, has reported more than $700,000, in donations,including big checks from companies hoping to join the marijuana growing and dispensing business. The most visible face of the campaign, Orlando attorney John Morgan, has made recent TV commercials which count as an in-kind donation....

  7. Legal protections an issue with Florida's medical marijuana amendment

    Elections

    Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana, contains new protections for patients, doctors, caregivers and dispensaries: Those who follow the rules will not suffer "civil liability or sanctions.''

    The amendment's drafters say they wanted to make sure patients who smoke medical marijuana would not lose rights to children in custody fights and doctors would not face lawsuits just for authorizing pot use....

    People on both sides of Florida’s medical marijuana debate are unhappy about the scope of legal protections Amendment 2 sets up for patients, doctors, caregivers and dispensaries.
  8. New poll shows approval for medical marijuana initiative

    State Roundup

    A new poll commissioned by the sponsor of Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize marijuana for medical use, shows 62 percent of likely voters will approve it, 35 percent are opposed and 3 percent are undecided, according to a United for Care release.

    The poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove based on actual ballot language, not a summary sentence that many polls use. It was a survey of cell phone and landline users, taken Oct. 22 through 27, the release said. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percent....

  9. United for Care poll shows enough support to pass medical marijuana initiative

    Blog

    A new poll commissioned by the sponsor of  Florida's Amendment 2, which would legalize marijuana for medical use, shows 62 percent of likely voters will approve it, 35 percent are opposed and 3 percent are undecided, according to a United for Care release.

    The poll, was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove  based on actual ballot
    language, not a summary sentence that many polls use. It was a survey of
    cell phone and landline users, taken Oct. 22 through 27, the release
    said. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percent....

  10. Dispute over Amendment 2 ads gets hazy

    Blog

    Now the medical marijuana campaign has a kerfuffle about ads on
    television and -- zounds! -- political untruths.

    United for Care, the group sponsoring Florida's medical marijuana
    amendment, announced this afternoon that it had sent out "cease and
    desist" letters to televisions stations for allegedly airing a 30-second
    Vote No On 2 ad called, "It's Nuts.''

    The Federal Communications Commission forbids stations from broadcasting  false and misleading statements,
    United for Care said, and the offending ad did contain a few extreme
    zingers, like Amendment 2 "is not about compassion. It would legalize
    marijuana," and "Kids can legally get it without their parents’
    permission.”...

  11. Times/Bay News 9/Graham Center Poll: Support for medical marijuana amendment slips dramatically

    Blog

    A constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is in serious jeopardy.

    For more than a year, the amendment seemed to enjoy broad support, cutting across political, racial and age lines.

    But with opposition forces financing TV ads and sheriffs showing up at forums, support for the amendment has slipped dramatically, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll....

  12. Times poll: Florida medical marijuana amendment in deep trouble

    State Roundup

    A constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is in serious jeopardy.

    For more than a year, the amendment seemed to enjoy broad support, cutting across political, racial and age lines.

    But with opposition forces financing TV ads and sheriffs showing up at forums, support for the amendment has slipped dramatically, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll....

  13. Barnstorming by bus, John Morgan tours Florida to tout medical marijuana

    Elections

    TAMPA — Outside the University of South Florida student center last week, a luxury bus originally customized for rock stars idled by the curb. The soft hum of its air conditioning was drowned out by students chanting, "Yes on 2! Yes on 2!''

    In the bus, Mr. Marijuana warmed up for another day of barnstorming.

    Multimillionaire lawyer John Morgan, 58, said he did not foresee this whirlwind 19 months ago when he took over a campaign to legalize medical marijuana by putting it in Florida's Constitution. But he clearly has embraced it....

    CHERIE DIEZ   Times
  14. Morgan rallies USF students to support medical marijuana amendment

    State Roundup

    TAMPA — With less than a month to go before Florida voters decide whether to legalize medical marijuana, attorney John Morgan told an audience of about 100 college students Tuesday that he needs them to get supporters to the polls.

    "Get your friends. Grab them by the hair. Grab them by the feet. And make sure they vote on Nov. 4," said Morgan, chairman of United for Care and the most visible proponent of the measure....

    Larry Heiny waves a sign of support for Amendment 2 after a medical marijuana rally Tuesday at the University of South Florida, part of the United for Care Medical Marijuana October Bus Tour.
  15. Pro-pot group suggests rules for medical marijuana in Florida

    Elections

    As Election Day draws near, opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment permitting the use of medical marijuana in Florida have been on the attack, alleging that approval would lead to dangerous consequences.

    Wednesday, backers of the amendment tried to allay such concerns by issuing a list of recommended regulations for the state Department of Health to put in place.

    If the measure passes, the state will have until next summer to draft regulations and put the system into place. In other states, the details of growing, distributing and using medical marijuana can fill hundreds of pages of regulations....