The latest financial reports by the two main groups fighting the
legalization of medical marijuana show a total of more than $7.7
million has been raised to oppose the constitutional amendment on
the Nov. 4 ballot.
Proponents of the referendum got a head start with Orlando personal
injury attorney John Morgan providing most of the $5 million spent
so far by People United for Medical Marijuana, though much of that
was devoted to gathering and validating voter petitions and
defending the ballot language in court.
Deep-pocketed Republicans have since jumped into the battle. The
Drug Free Florida campaign, which opposes the amendment, has raised
$2.7 million, including a $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas
casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major Republican donor.
This week, the non-partisan Florida Sheriffs Association began a
separate "educational campaign" against the amendment.
Polls show a majority of Floridians support medical marijuana
legalization but constitutional amendments need a 60 percent
majority in order to pass.
"I'm not 100 percent sure it's a slam dunk," said University of
South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. "We're
starting to see a lot more attention to some of the unintended
consequences (of marijuana legalization) that have happened in
Colorado, the negative side of it."
The Florida amendment is also enmeshed in the hot race for governor.
Republican Governor Rick Scott opposes it, while former Governor
Charlie Crist, who is seeking to return to the office as a Democrat,
MacManus said constitutional amendment campaigns sometimes draw big
money - trial lawyers and doctors have had big ballot battles over
medical malpractice, and casino interests bankrolled some failed
initiatives - but the marijuana fight figures to cost more than any
previous issues election.
[to top of second column]
Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently said the
amendment is too broadly drafted, prompting a stinging rebuke from
Morgan, a major party donor who called for her removal as chairwoman
of the Democratic National Committee.
The Florida legislature last month passed a bill that would legalize
but strictly limit the distribution of a noneuphoric strain of
marijuana believed to reduce epileptic seizures. Scott has said he
will sign it into law.
November's referendum is a broader proposal that would allow
physicians to recommend the regular form of marijuana to people with
(Editing by David Adams and Will Dunham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.