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Backroom Briefing: Pot Debate Goes from 'Trojan Horse' to Lutheran Towers

January 28, 2016 - 6:00pm


Two years after knocking off a similar proposal, opponents of a medical marijuana initiative that will appear on the November ballot are gearing up for another battle.

Drug Free America Foundation and the group "No on 2" quickly issued press releases Thursday condemning the proposed constitutional amendment, a day after Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan announced that a group he leads had reached the requisite number of signatures to put the initiative before voters in the fall.

A similar proposal narrowly failed to pass in 2014, coming in just two percentage points shy of the 60 percent total needed for constitutional amendments to pass in Florida.

Backers of the "Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions" amendment tweaked the 2014 initiative to address concerns expressed by Florida Supreme Court justices and opponents.

But some critics aren't satisfied.

"It legalizes pot smoking in Florida under the cynical guise of helping sick people. Marijuana is not medicine, it is an illegal and dangerous drug," No on 2 spokesman Tre' Evers said in a press release Thursday. "The fact is that wherever pot smoking has been legalized under the guise of 'medical marijuana' it has proven to be a farce, a ruse, de-facto legalization."
No on 2 pledged to "once again get the truth out to Florida voters" concerning the "Trojan horse" of an amendment.

It's not clear yet where the state's sheriffs, among the most outspoken opponents of the 2014 measure, will be on the new proposal. They're discussing the issue at the Florida Sheriffs Association winter conference next week.

The political committee backing the "No on 2" campaign, Drug Free Florida, hasn't raised any money yet. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson dumped more than $5.5 million into the committee last time around.

Morgan, who's spent about $7 million trying to get voters to legalize medical marijuana, told reporters on Thursday that he's not sure how much of his own money he'll sink into the effort this year.

"I know my children are upset because I've eaten into their inheritance," the brash Morgan quipped, saying that his four children calculated that his crusade cost them about $2 million apiece. "I don't know what I'm prepared to spend. … I would like to raise a lot more and spend a lot less."

Morgan, who at one point engaged in a college-town bus tour in an attempt to fire up students, called his campus outreach a blunder.

"I thought I could go out and rally the young people, get them up off their asses to vote and they didn't," he said." I made a mistake. I should have been educating old people like me."

This time around, Morgan said he plans to target seniors whose wives or husbands could benefit from the medical marijuana treatment.

"I plan to be talking to seniors about why this is for them and why not to be scared," he said. "Instead of spending time with the young Democrats … I'd be more inclined to go to the Lutheran towers and have a town hall there."

Gov. Rick Scott is cheekily promoting the Sunshine State by using a federal program to assist snowed-in folks up north.
The governor's office announced Wednesday that it was sending 15 Florida Department of Transportation trucks, with 31 state employees, to the nation's capital to help with snow removal after "Snowzilla" swept across the mid-Atlantic last weekend.
Scott, who was in Washington meeting with the media and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, bragged in the release that the dump trucks have been "wrapped" with a "friendly message" for Washington residents and business owners.
A photo accompanying the release shows a yellow sign affixed to the back of a dump truck stating "Sharing the Sunshine" and featuring a hitchhiking snowman holding a sign that states "Florida Bound." The sign also includes the Visit Florida logo and the Twitter hashtag #LoveFL.
According to the release, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is coordinating the relief effort in response to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request from the District of Columbia. The multi-state compact is set up for governments to provide assistance to each other in times of emergencies. 
The governor's office release notes, "Through this agreement the aid will not be paid for by Florida tax dollars."
Florida isn't the only state that sent snow relief aid.
Much more familiar with winter emergencies, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy announced Tuesday he was sending 30 employees --- with plow trucks and snow blowers --- to Washington and Maryland.
Malloy, a Democrat whose state has been targeted by Scott for business recruitment, received a tweet of thanks from D.C.'s Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has come under fire after the city issued more $1 million in parking tickets during the snow emergency.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: "A lot of people speaking on God's behalf. I wish God would fill out an appearance card on this one so we wouldn't have to rely on hearsay." --- Associated Press reporter Brendan Farrington (@bsfarrington) during a Senate Health Policy Committee debate Tuesday about an abortion bill.

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