Petitioners for 2016 clean energy, green medicine ballot initiatives collecting signatures at FAU

Petitioners for medical marijuana and “solar choice” initiatives gathering signatures on Boca campus


Photo by Dylan Bouscher | Contributing Photographer

You might’ve spotted the neon green “medical marijuana petitioner” logo on Mike McSherry’s T-shirt, which he wears as he collects signatures for a United for Care petition for an amendment to legalize and regulate medical marijuana.

Capture9This 2016 initiative is similar to Amendment 2, a 2014 ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida that failed, 3 percent shy of the 60 percent majority needed for approval.

“I think it’s a good thing, not everybody is all excited about the marijuana,” McSherry says. “But most people are. I think it helps more than it causes harm.”

After rattling off a list of medical ailments that marijuana treats, McSherry stops at autism. He says his brother has autism, that he smokes around his brother, and that doing so “calms him down.”

Donna Kral, 34, patrols the Breezeway with a clipboard and pen. She graduated in 2003 with a degree in sociology, but she says she’s probably returning to campus every Monday through Friday in 2015 to gather signatures from people who support placing initiatives on solar power and medical marijuana on Florida’s 2016 election ballot.

“We’re just doing a take two,” Kral says. “It’s all promoting democracy and us having a voice and gets people thinking about the issues … a lot of times people see issues on a ballot and just make a random decision. So doing petitioning makes them aware of the issue so when it does make the ballot, they can make an informed decision.”

In the few weeks that Kral and McSherry have been collecting signatures, they’ve averaged 500 signatures a week, with McSherry estimating that 1,500 signatures have been collected total. It wasn’t clear how many signatures were specific to each initiative. Each initiative needs 683,149 signatures to make the 2016 ballot in Florida.

Mike McSherry collects signatures for petitions to place medical marijuana and solar power initiatives on the 2016 election ballot in Florida. Photo by Dylan Bouscher | Contributing Photographer
Mike McSherry collects signatures for petitions to place medical marijuana and solar power initiatives on the 2016 election ballot in Florida. Photo by Dylan Bouscher | Contributing Photographer

McSherry says he makes 50 cents per signature collected for the medical marijuana ballot initiative and 75 cents per signature collected for the solar power ballot initiative. On Tuesday, he made $40 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., walking up and down the Breezeway and standing outside the S.E. Wimberly Library.

Kral, who’s been petitioning for 11 years, enjoys it because it fits her schedule as a single mother. “It’s just regular people interested in a cause,” she says.

Floridians for Solar Choice is the political committee behind the solar power initiative, which would allow voters to pass or reject a constitutional amendment that “limits or prevents government and electric utility imposed barriers to supplying local solar electricity.”
Currently, Florida is one of five states with laws that only allow “utilities” companies like Florida Power and Light to sell electricity directly to consumers, according to the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, a source funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. If approved, the Floridians for Solar Choice amendment will change the law to “expand solar choice by allowing all customers the option to power their homes or businesses with solar power and [choose] who provides it to them,” according to the committee’s website. But it has to make it on the ballot first.

Exercise science major Bradley Joe, 24, says he doesn’t care about the petitioners or know how he’ll vote on the issues they’re petitioning.

“They don’t really bother me,” Joe says. “I’ll probably do my own research on it. I don’t really want to take anybody else’s word … I’ll do my own research to make my own vote.”


    Medical Marijuana ballot initiative

        Solar power ballot initiative