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Politics

Medical Marijuana Campaign Heats Up in May Fundraising

June 13, 2016 - 7:15pm

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. 

 

 

 

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

Comments

If amendment 2 passes, doctors could recommend (not prescribe) marijuana for ANY debilitating condition. The DOH estimates that 2,000 pot shops will open across the state. Who wants a pot shop in their neighborhood? I sure don't! California allows pot to be recommended for any debilitating condition. Do you want Florida's beaches to look like California's Venice Beach, lined with marijuana dispensaries, pot docs, and gaudy marijuana "specials" signs? If A 2 passes, drugged driving crashes will surge. Children will be admitted to ERs because of pot-laced edibles poisonings. Vote NO on 2. Keep Floridians healthy and safe.

Follow the real $$$$ trail. I would welcome pot shops in our town. Most of the people I know imbibe, we may as well pay our share of taxes. Don't you realize the amount of money wasted? I have been writing to our leaders before the age of internet communication saying exactly this. We are willing to pay our fair share. California's Venice Beach looked terrible in the 1970's, I can't imagine it looks much worse now. I am a mother of four grown sons, none ever in jail. If you think no pot is sold anywhere in your neighborhood, your head is in the sand.

Are you being disingenuous or do you realize you are lying? Oh, yea... you are tied in with DFAF and the child abusing Semblers. That DOH report was as flawed as most of your arguments. It was not based on Florida, or Amendment 2 or on the pathetic program currently being called "Medical Marijuana" in Florida. None of that is going to happen because Florida' Lawmajers will get to set the basic rules. Do you really believe thay will accept a California type program? Off course not. It just makes your propaganda seem true. Why do Doctors "recommend " instead of "prescribe". Because by federal law they can't. Cannabis is still schedule 1. Why do you hate your fellow Floridians who would benefit from real medical cannabis reform? Because you are paid to. By the Semblers who ran Striaght, Inc where hundreds, thousands of at risk teens were abused, molested and put at further risk. You are bought and paid for by powerful people who should have no power. I say ignore your lies and propagnda. YES on 2. ForThePatients!

It makes in sick to hear there are people slowing this movement, it's proven marijuana works as a medicine for those who need it. This guy Mel I'm sure has large stock in Pharmaceutical companies there's reasons why these guys give up their money to support the anti moment. I'm sure he thinks its fine all the overdose deaths caused by pharmaceutical DRUGS, and how about tobacco, alcohol. He's working his owe agenda making profits. (It should come as no surprise that these types of anti-legalization groups feed from the trough of filthy lucre funneled in by pharmaceutical corporations, private prison companies, and law enforcement unions – all of which stand to lose a lot of money in the absence of prohibition. And I don't buy for a second that Mel Sembler isn't wetting his beak somewhere in the mix of this giant potpourri of propaganda. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. His infamous Straight, Inc. landed hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money while it was in operation.)

Republicans had a chance to do the will of Floridians and chose not to. Now it is up to us, We the People. Vote YES on 2. ForThePatients!

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