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Medical Marijuana Ballot Amendment Shaping Up to Be a Costly Fight

May 25, 2016 - 8:30pm

The general election isn’t until November, but the fight to legalize medical marijuana is already gearing up to be costlier than ever.

Two years ago, the same constitutional amendment to green light medical pot fell short of the 60 percent to pass by only three points -- so this year, groups in support of and opposed to the measure will be putting everything they’ve got into their efforts.

To put it in perspective, the supporters and opponents of the amendment raised over $14 million in 2014. 

The Drug-Free Florida political committee was the primary force working against the medical marijuana amendment in 2014, and the group is back for round two to make sure the amendment doesn’t pass. 

Mel Sembler, a prominent Republican fundraiser, raise over $7 million of for Drug-Free Florida’s anti-Amendment 2 efforts in 2014. 

Sembler has pledged to raise over $10 million for the campaign’s efforts this year.

That pledge was the subject of harsh criticism from Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has been one of the biggest supporters of the amendment.

Morgan worked hand in hand with People United for Medical Marijuana (United For Care) to push the vote to pass medical marijuana in 2014 and the duo has teamed up once again to pass the amendment this year. 

Morgan says compassion and a true desire to help needy Floridians are why he supports the amendment. In 2014, he put millions of his own money into the campaign to legalize medical marijuana. 

Morgan’s massive personal donation was the subject of a recent email attack against Sembler, where he slammed Sembler for not donating as much of his own money to the cause against medical marijuana. 

“I made a commitment to see compassion come to Florida in the form of medical marijuana, and I’ve put over $7 million of my own money towards fulfilling that commitment,” said Morgan in a recent fundraising email. “Mel the Moocher announced he was going to raise $10 million to defeat medical marijuana in Florida. He raised $7.5 million last time. Guess how much Mel the Moocher put in of his own money in 2014? Only 1.3% of the $7.5 million he raised. $100,000.”

Morgan also accused Sembler of “bullying” the sick and suffering people of Florida from receiving care via medical marijuana.

“If there is one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s bullies,” Morgan wrote. “I’ve made my living beating up bullies. Mel the Moocher is a bully.”
To retaliate against Sembler and other high-profile donors who will undoubtedly fight tooth and nail to stop medical marijuana, Morgan has pledged to match any contributions to United for Care this year. In 2014, Morgan made the same pledge. 

United For Care has already raised nearly $4 million for their campaign this year, but it spent around $3 million to collect petition signatures to get the constitutional amendment back on the ballot this year. 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.



It is amazing how many people are concerned that someone else may be having too much fun. Why would anyone care that patients get together to consume cannabis?

Can we please stop debating adult use of non-toxic plants? Why aren't adults in charge of their own lives?

Cannabis a right

I just cannot believe the foolishness of two comments here. I think Sherryl and LW are way out of line writing about something they obviously know little, to nothing about! Small wonder why Florida is so behind the times!

why not just stop all the harassment of all people in pain and let them have pain medications.

Because that would make too much common sense! GO TRUMP!!

I support medical marijuana for a number of reasons. I'm a 100% service-connected Veteran that suffers from Glaucoma, severe and chronic PTSD, and severe and chronic back pain. All the VA does is shove pills on you for whatever reason. I'd like to get off all the pills I have to take everyday. With medical marijuana, I could do that. I sleep better, eat better, and have a tremendous relief of pain. Right now I have to buy my marijuana on the Black Market. There is no telling what it is grown in. The passing of Amendment #2 would eliminate the Black Market.

Lawmakers refused to do real reform. Now it is up to you. YES on 2. ForThePatients!

Just pass a law and allow citizens to use marijuana in the privacy of their own homes. How about clean bug free, poison free State grown clean Marijuana. You wanna doctor to decide for you because you can't decide for yourself? Yet it's always been dirty dope bought from a dope dealer. That's who our children get it from! Black Market Dope. Open up the dispensary and let the citizens decide.

If, as Mr. Morgan says, medical marijuana is really needed for the "sick and suffering" people of Florida, then be sure that the wording includes that the marijuana may only be used by the patient in their own home....not at group medical marijuana parties! That's we are seeing in AZ under the medical marijuana label.....people get a medical card for just about anything and then get together for a real recreational pot party at someone's home or backyard. Anyone in the neighborhood complains of the heavy smells, noise, etc., they are shot down with "hey, we can legally do this". Talk about being bullied! You can't tell me that those parties are for the "sick and suffering"! Just make sure the wording of the amendment allows only in-home smoking by the patient, not group smoking!

You are being bullied because of other people's medical rights? What?!

How would you enforce only in-home smoking by the patient? Marijuana is a Gateway drug. The only people who will be helped here are the dealers and growers. What a farce. Say NO on amendment 2.

Both you and Sheryl have missed the entire reading of the bill, yet you are ready to say "vote NO on 2"! Medical marijuana does NOT offer the 'high' that recreational marijuana does. It simply eases the feeling of pain patients have. Please correctly research your alleged facts BEFORE you advise others on a subject you know almost nothing about! GO TRUMP!!

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