Florida Medical Cannabis Amendment Mired in Gubernatorial Politics

medical cannabis

The proposed Florida medical cannabis constitutional amendment, which goes on November’s ballot as Amendment 2, is becoming mired in gubernatorial politics. Up until recently, proponents of the measure received very little pushback from amendment opponents. Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Biondi have both been against the marijuana proposition from its early stages. Biondi filed a brief in opposition to the measure going on the November ballot when the Florida Supreme Court considered the matter. As polling indicates Floridians approve of the amendment in numbers exceeding the 60 percent threshold necessary for passing, Governor Scott and his supporters who oppose the measure are beginning more concerted efforts to make sure the polling approval does not translate into actual votes.

The primary financial backer of the ballot effort has thus far been personal injury attorney John Morgan, a well-known fundraiser for Democrats. He reportedly has contributed $4 million of his own funds to the effort. Ben Pollara, the manager of the pro-Amendment 2 organization United for Care, estimates that approximately $10 million in contributions will be necessary for Amendment 2 to pass. Opposition forces have been initially led by the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Medical Association. More organized opposition is also beginning to fire salvos at the amendment. The Drug Free Florida Committee and the sheriff led “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” are establishing campaigns to thwart the amendment effort. Significantly, Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy casino owner and Republican financial supporter, has contributed a reported $2.5 million to Drug Free Florida in order to assist Amendment 2 opposition. The large contribution by Adelson fuels speculation that the Florida medical cannabis amendment is now enmeshed in gubernatorial politics.

Adelson is a major supporter of a research center at Tel Aviv University, which engages in medical marijuana research activities of its own. Given his apparent support of medical marijuana research, the contribution to Drug Free Florida leads many to believe that the funding of Amendment 2 opposition solely relates to politics instead of actual opposition to the amendment. Adelson is seeking legislation by the State of Florida to allow casinos in South Florida. In order to secure approval, he needs the blessing of Scott and Florida’s Republican majority legislature. Although Scott disavows any knowledge as to the reasoning behind a Las Vegas based casino owner staking such a strong claim against a Florida constitutional amendment, those connecting the dots believe that Adelson is showing his Scott support bona fides through the large contribution.

Scott’s political calculus appears to be that votes in favor of Amendment 2 are more likely to coincide with votes for Scott’s presumed opponent Charlie Crist. Scott could have blunted the political impact of the ballot initiative by voicing qualified support, but he apparently held true to his principles and his base of supporters by consistently speaking out against the measure. He did signal he would sign the recently passed Charlotte’s Web legislation, which allows non-euphoric medical cannabis to be used by children with epilepsy and other major illnesses. He could conceivably note his support of limited compassionate use of the medical marijuana while letting others deliver stronger body blows to the amendment effort.

The financial backing of Sheldon Adelson for the Amendment 2 opposition appears to indicate significant behind the scenes maneuvering to thwart the amendment. Although known to be politically active, the large infusion of cash for amendment opposition by the casino owner provides evidence that the medical cannabis ballot proposition is becoming mired in gubernatorial politics. Proponents of the measure will need to use the summer to garner a larger war chest to achieve victory in November.

By William Costolo

Miami Herald
Bradenton Herald

6 Responses to "Florida Medical Cannabis Amendment Mired in Gubernatorial Politics"

  1. LogoRunner   June 28, 2014 at 5:06 am

    The Florida Sheriff’s and State Attorney General Pam Biondi are against Marijuana in Florida because of the financial revenue generated by busting small possession and small sales aggressively. To get caught in Florida with Pot can destroy your life. A Guilty adjudication on a misdemeanor pot charge means the loss of your driver’s license for TWO YEARS. That alone would ruin many people. I know a man who was sentenced to four years in prison for an amount of pot that wouldn’t generate a Ticket in half of the States in America. The prison system has been privatized here, and is a huge lobby. This State was a paradise until the politicians, every generation of them coming in on a “tough on crime” stance, increased the penalties over the years to where tiny crimes can result in large prison sentences. Florida also leads the country in prosecuting juveniles as adults. It has turned into a Police State here, and I for one can’t wait to move away.

  2. Fire   June 17, 2014 at 5:57 am

    This Bill has been sitting on Scotts desk for one and a half months now waiting for his signature. Sounds like he forced his left hand to sign the Bill. If elections were not this November, he would not have signed this Bill screwing the children out of their medicine. Now Scott is out campaigning to lower college tuition, he did. He signed into law to lower illegals college tuition. Now he’s promising to lower all students tuition. If this happens our colleges will be like the infrastructure here in America, crumbling. It will be like K-12 education in a few years. You want to go to a college or University where maintenance is cheap or education is so so. You are getting a great education because you pay for a great education. When you pay for a cheap education you will get what you pay for. Think about this and don’t let some politician tell you how they have that magic wand, cause there is no magic wand.

  3. jerk   June 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    vote yes on two

  4. Dusty Relic   June 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Good luck to the people of Florida; I hope y’all manage to fight off this blatant politicization of your rights.

  5. VOTE Yes on 2   June 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Las Vegas Gambling and Alcohol Mobsters are funding Florida Sheriff’s to arrest and incarcerate Medical; Marijuana Patients. STOP the criminals in Florida. VOTE YES on 2.

  6. HempStaff   June 15, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Looking to work in Medical Marijuana in Florida? www.hempstaff.com

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