The campaign to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana raised a little over $100,000 during the month of May, according to the latest finance reports.
People United for Medical Marijuana (United For Care), headed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, has been calling for donations for its campaign to pass Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana for patients with 'debilitating’ medical conditions.
In May, the committee raised $110,000, with none of it coming from Morgan. $50,000 of that sum came from South Florida philanthropist Barbara Stiefel and $5,000 came from from Patrick Morgan.
The amendment is back up for a vote in 2016 after falling two points short of the necessary requirement to become a reality in the Sunshine State in 2014.
In 2014, United For Care raised $11.5 million, which included $1.9 million in loans mainly from John Morgan’s law firm. The committee spend a significant chunk of that money on petition gathering efforts to get the amendment on the ballot.
Stiefel donated over $1 million to the effort two years ago.
The campaign to legalize medical pot hasn’t raised quite as much money this go-around. United For Care has raised $3.7 million so far, but spent most of that money -- $3.65 million -- on collecting the 683,000 petitions needed to bring the initiative to the ballot in November.
Most of the money raised -- $2.4 million (about 65 percent) -- came from the Morgan Law Firm and $190,000 came from Barbara Stiefel.
On the opposite side of Amendment 2 is Drug Free Florida, the political committee which went head-to-head with United For Care over medical marijuana in 2014.
Drug Free Florida restarted its efforts against Amendment 2 in May and Republican fundraiser Mel Sembler kickstarted the campaign with a $500,000 donation.
Sembler was one of the three major funders to the anti-Amendment 2 campaign in 2014. Two years ago, Sembler donated the same amount -- $500,000 -- to Drug Free Florida.
Sembler, a Tampa Bay shopping center developer, is one of the Republican Party’s most successful fundraisers. He served as chairman of the Drug Free America Foundation and has also served as a U.S. ambassador to Italy and Australia.
The committee’s other two major donors included businessman Sheldon Adelson, who dumped $5 million into the campaign in 2014, and the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust, which donated $540,000.
Drug Free Florida spent $50,000 last month, spending $38,000 to Consensus Communications, $4,700 to Nancy Watkins for accounting services and gave $2,000 to Peter Schorsch’s firm Extensive Enterprises.
On Monday, United For Care campaign manager Ben Pollara sent an email to supporters, urging them to donate to the campaign.
“It came out this week that Mel Sembler put in $500,000 to try to kick-start fundraising for the No on 2 campaign,” Pollara wrote. "What this means is we have to redouble our efforts to keep up—mainly through small dollar donations. We have a big fight on our hands.”
Pollara wrote that the Greenspoon Marder law firm has agreed to match $25,000 in donations in June.
Amendment 2 needs 60 percent of the vote in the General Election to pass.