Medical marijuana Archives - Page 6 of 28 - Florida Politics

Pro-medical marijuana group set to launch first TV ad

The United for Care campaign is hitting the airwaves.

The group behind the medical marijuana ballot initiative recently filmed its first advertisement and is expected to release it this week. The 30-second spot features a Miami Beach doctor talking about the benefits of Amendment 2.

“My patients are fighting cancer, epilepsy, and other diseases. Right now, to ease those patients’ pain and suffering, physicians prescribe opiates and other dangerous narcotics that have significant risk,” said Dr. Jeff Kamlet, a practicing internal and addiction medicine specialist, in the advertisement. “Amendment 2 will allow me to legally recommend all safe and effective treatments, including medical marijuana, to patients who are suffering. ‘Yes on 2’ means I can offer compassionate, effective care and get my patients the help they need.”

Kamlet has been a supporter of the amendment, writing an op-ed in 2014 backing it. In it, Kamlet said doctors “should be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to their patients suffering from debilitating conditions without interference from politicians.” The op-ed went on to say “sick Floridians should not have to put their own freedom at risk in order to secure medicine they need to dramatically improve their quality of life.”

The 2014 amendment received 58 percent support, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

The current proposal would allow people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

In a fundraising email to supporters this weekend, the organization said “thanks to our donors and a big new $1 million donation that came in on Friday, we’re starting TV ads in select markets very shortly. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the ads are expected to air in Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Jacksonville markets

Records show People United for Medical Marijuana, the fundraising group behind the amendment, raised $222,141 between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23. The committee, records show, spent $104,306 during the same time period.

‘Reefer Madness’ returns to Tallahassee

The forces against this year’s medical marijuana initiative lined up a one-two punch Friday against the proposed state constitutional amendment.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Ken Bell provided the legal jab, saying marijuana doesn’t belong in the state’s chief governing document. He addressed reporters at a press conference in Tallahassee.

“You create a fundamental right that the Legislature is very constrained in its ability to deal with in terms of any unintended consequences,” said Bell, a conservative who sat on the court from 2003-08. 

State Sen. Jack Latvala — the Clearwater Republican set to be Appropriations Committee chair — delivered the moral cross, saying enshrining marijuana in the constitution is just plain wrong.

“I want to be a little more personal,” Latvala said. “I don’t want this to come to Florida … I just see too many opportunities for abuse.”

Backers of the broader use of medical marijuana are trying again in 2016, after a similar amendment failed narrowly at the polls two years ago. The committee behind it is again called United for Care. 

After enjoying broad support, it only got 58 percent of the vote — just shy of the 60 percent required for passage of an amendment — after a negative ad campaign largely financed by Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson.

The latest amendment now is polling between 65-75 percent.

The initiative is again backed by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has spent millions of dollars on the campaigns. Morgan has spoken publicly about his interest in the cause: His brother’s need for marijuana to ease crippling pain.

But the opposition continues to rally against what former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford called “the Coloradofication of Florida, where the end game is a pot shop on every street corner.”

Florida already allows by statute the low-THC, or non-euphoric, marijuana, mostly for children with severe seizures and spasms, and the higher-THC strain approved this year for terminally ill patients.

But Latvala and others continue to raise concerns, for instance, that “Amendment 2 will bring kid-friendly pot candy to Florida,” a claim just rated “half true” by PolitiFact.

“I just think it’s wrong,” Latvala said. “I’m concerned that there won’t be the ability for local governments to regulate where these bud shops or pot shops are located … Most of all, we have no scientific evidence that there’s any medicinal value for marijuana.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse“the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.”

“However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana … has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain (those) chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications,” its website adds. 

United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said in an email, “If the Legislature had done their job in the first place, Sen. Latvala wouldn’t have an amendment to oppose. They didn’t.

“The current law isn’t even being accessed by many of the families it was narrowly written to help,” Pollara said. “If Sen. Latvala is displeased that this issue is now before voters as a constitutional amendment, perhaps he should reflect on why the Legislature failed to enact the people’s will.”

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia “now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but selling marijuana is still a federal crime.

The Obama administration, however, has given guidance to federal prosecutors to not charge those, particularly “the seriously ill and their caregivers,” who distribute and use medical marijuana under a state law.

The No on 2 campaign’s website is here. The website for the organization behind this year’s amendment is here.

medical marijuana

Poll: 73% of voters support medical marijuana ballot initiative

The 2016 medical marijuana ballot initiative has strong support among Floridians, according to a new poll.

A new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found 73 percent of voters would support the amendment. The survey found 22 percent were opposed to the ballot initiative.

The poll of 617 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 through Sept. 20. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.

The 2016 proposal allows people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

A similar amendment received 58 percent of the vote in 2014, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

The new Florida Chamber Political Institute survey is in line with other recent polls, which showed 70 percent of Floridians supported the amendment.

New ad from Drug Free Florida says marijuana ‘is not medicine’

Drug Free Florida is out with a new TV ad questioning the assertion that medical marijuana is medicine.

The 30-second spot, according to the Vote No on 2 campaign, is meant to compare a prescription drug with marijuana. According to the campaign, Marinol, a prescription drug, has the same benefits as marijuana but is “regulated by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor.”

“This is not medicine, not regulated by the FDA, not prescribed by a doctor. But Amendment 2 makes it legal” a narrator says in the 30-second spot as people are shown smoking marijuana. “Why? Because Amendment 2 is a scam.”

The ad goes on to say “you don’t smoke medicine.”

The committee ran a successful campaign against the 2014 medical marijuana amendment. That proposal received 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

The current proposal allows people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

Recent polling found 70 percent of likely Florida voters said they support the 2016 ballot initiative.

Bill Rufty: A political rarity in HD 41 – Republican, Democrat agree

RuftyRepublicans and Democrats agreeing on a major issue – It seldom (if ever) happens lately in national politics.

But on a state level, Republican Sam Killebrew and Democrat Bob Doyel, competing for Florida House District 41, agreed on the critical issue of education in the state of Florida.

There are too many tests and perhaps not geared to finding children’s progress so much as to grade teachers or schools, they said in front of a Polk County Tiger Bay luncheon in Bartow Wednesday.

Both men, of course, support the state giving the vacant agriculture office building, Nora Mayo Hall, located in the district, to the city of Winter Haven.

District 41 covers the eastern portion of Polk County. It is currently held by Rep. John Wood, a Winter Haven Republican, who will have reached his eight-year term limit on Election Day.

Killebrew and Doyel each won their respective party’s primary, Aug. 30. No Democrat has won the seat since 1998 or any other legislative seat in the county for that matter.

The Democratic Party, not known for vigorous active campaigning for its candidates, is “pulling out the stops” for Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, because of the changing face of the district. More people who work in Osceola or Orange counties are among those moving into the northeast portion of the county.

But Killebrew is well-known for his contributions to the Republican Party both financial and through his candidate recruiting. A retired contractor, he completed several projects in the district.

They (state education officials) have tied teachers hands by all of this excessive testing, said Killebrew, whose wife teaches in the Polk County school system. His wife has helped him understand what changes are needed in Florida, he said.

“She says we need to get the federal government out and have mostly the state involved,” he said. “But we need to do testing by counties not one state standard test because there are differences,” he said.

Doyel gave a similar opinion on education and testing.

“We need to take a close look at testing. If that is what we call an education standard then we are in real trouble,” Doyel said

“The tests don’t take into account if the child is hungry or couldn’t sleep the night before because of poverty…or homelessness,” he said.

There were plenty of differences between the two men on other issues.

Unlike many Tiger Bay Clubs where members rise from the audience, sometimes in a confrontational manner that wastes time, Polk club members submit their questions in writing.

Asked for their opinion on legislation likely to come before the Legislation in 2017 that would allow people to openly carry a gun, Doyel said he is “adamantly opposed.”

Killebrew said 45 states allow open carry permits. Open carry permits are stricter and require stiffer checks he said.

Both men strongly disagree on a proposed medical marijuana amendment proposed for the state constitution.

“It should not be in the state constitution. This one is bad but not as bad as the one two years ago (which was defeated),” Killebrew said.

‘’It still is not handed out by pharmacies, but private shops and a caregiver can buy for up to five people,” he said.

Doyel said he, too, was opposed to the issue being a constitutional amendment such as the one outlawing the penning of pregnant pigs which was passed some years ago.

“I support it, but not just on medical marijuana,” Doyel said. “As former law professor, I am concerned about teenagers who get caught with a very small amount of marijuana and have their futures destroyed with prosecution.

“I think for those small cases there should be a citation,” he said.

On expansion of Medicaid coverage Killebrew is opposed and Doyel supports it.

With a question asking each candidate’s position on abortion, Killebrew said: “I am pro-life.”

Doyel said, “I wish it were that simple, but that runs counter to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.”

From a political junkie’s viewpoint, both candidates were almost too nice to one another.

Both wisely called for additional funding for citrus greening. Polk County dropped from first in production of citrus in the state to third and the main agriculture research center is located in District 41.

Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee addresses packed agenda

In the last Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee meeting before the full council passes the budget Sept. 27, a packed agenda was considered.

Among the more compelling bills: a controversial measure to appropriate $5,000 to each of the fourteen district council members for “special events” in public parks; a bill tightening up regulations on burglar alarms; authorization of $26.275 million for UF Health … money that comes with certain strings attached; and an adoption of the five-year capital improvement and IT plans.

To cap it off, Councilman Matt Schellenberg, the city’s representative to the Florida Association of Counties, had some concerns to address about medical cannabis … specifically, Amendment 2 not allowing counties to opt out.

— The bill (2016-489) moving $70,000 from council contingency for special events for each of the fourteen district council members saw bill sponsor Reggie Brown visiting Finance. Council members had questions ahead of the bill’s deferral.

Schellenberg had questions about costs, specifically related to events with more than 500 people.

That impact would require two police officers and two fire and rescue officers.

Schellenberg expressed concern about potential cost overruns; money more than $5,000 for any given event would be the responsibility of the district council member, and would theoretically be secured by private sponsorship.

Councilman Greg Anderson noted the bill got “stuck in Rules yesterday,” with “questions that could have been answered” if Brown had been there.

One concern Anderson had: what the money could be used to purchase.

Brown opined that the money is intended for “resource fairs” and other community building events, including stages and bleachers, not for refreshments.

Sponsorships, as were the case in a previous committee that deferred, came up in the discussion.

These could range from in-kind contributions like “bounce houses” to other amenities; such “sponsorships” would have to be cleared by the ethics office.

Anderson was not mollified, saying that there could be overlap with supporters wearing candidate shirts, saying that could render the event “political in nature.”

Councilman Brown stated that “it begins with trust,” adding that there is no way to regulate what attendees wear, but that council members will be “responsible and prudent” in avoiding politicizing events.

Anderson pushed for deferral.

“I’m not at a place right now where I can support it,” Anderson said, adding that he is open to a public notice meeting to iron out details.

Another question: entertainment.

Brown said that, while there may be a DJ, these events aren’t intended to entertain, but to provide access to resources.

“When you invite the community to the park, they’ll see what we’re offering,” Brown said, noting resource disparities between his district and some others.

“This isn’t about a party … it’s about making their quality of life as good as the next citizen,” Brown said.

Councilman Bill Gulliford fretted that the legislation excluded the beaches and Baldwin, and wanted to ensure that events throughout the county would be included in this legislation.

Councilman Sam Newby wondered why this measure couldn’t be extended to at-large council members; Brown noted that at-large members are welcome to attend all fourteen events.

Finance Chair Anna Brosche pushed for deferral, pending a Monday public notice meeting to resolve concerns.

Council President Lori Boyer, with an edge in her voice, wanted to know what events are in the bill and what events are out.

“There is an amorphous line,” Boyer said, and the demarcation needs to be clearer.

The urgency to get this passed: the end of the fiscal year. And Brown doesn’t want that money swept into the general fund.

“If nothing else, let’s lock the dollars down, so we can have the dollars,” Brown said. “I just don’t want the dollars to leave our accessibility right now.”

A possible solution, advanced by Boyer: an amendment to the budget, which would allow deferral of the bill while locking down the money.

This would create a larger transfer from fund balance in the upcoming fiscal year.

— Ordinance 2016-562, the bill stiffening penalties for false burglar alarms and requiring a registry of residential and commercial alarms, was considered by Finance.

Of 45,000 alarm calls for service, 98 percent are false, creating 36,000 annual hours of enforcement burden for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Currently, six false alarms are required before a fine kicks in; the bill, as amended, would allow one false alarm, then escalating fines of $50, $100, $250, and $500 for subsequent false alarms. After six, the JSO would cease responding to alarms at that address, except for panic or robbery-in-progress alarms (which would incur $500 fines for each false alarm).

The current setup offers no “incentive to fix alarms.” Adding more teeth to enforcement would provide such incentive to fix them within 30 days.

One wrinkle finally brought up in the third committee meeting on this topic: local government cannot make the alarm company liable for failure to register alarms, which shifts the enforcement burden to the end user, as local governments cannot contravene the superior law.

Good lobbying, for sure.

This concerned Councilman Gulliford, who noted that “we can’t put any real pressure on the alarm [contractor] or monitoring company.”

Despite these concerns, Gulliford urged passage of the bill and discharging it from its one remaining committee at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Council President Boyer called this a “nightmare waiting to happen,” which would be “just like the red light cameras,” painting a dark scenario of a deluge of emails from irked constituents who are absorbing the burden of this legislation.

JSO Chief Larry Schmitt defended the online registration component of the bill, which would use a vendor to maintain the database.

Boyer stressed that annual alarm registration is a “high expectation.”

Despite these qualms, the bill cleared Finance.

For those interested in more discussion of this measure, it will be available Thursday morning at a public notice meeting.

— Via 2016-506, the committee approved the same allocation for UF Health as in the previous year: $26.275 million. $6 million will be allocated for disproportionate care; that goes into the state pool and gives UF Health $14 million. The other $20 million will be dispersed to the state when the city confirms “adequate participation” by the rest of the state, to ensure Jacksonville gets back what it puts in.

Council will pass this Tuesday. As well, Council will approve the five-year capital improvement, and IT plans as part of the annual budget bonanza.

Council President Boyer, fulfilling a vow made before she took office, noted that the CIP is a real five-year CIP, offering concrete guidance for long-term planning.

A concern: that the ordinance moves funds from a Community Redevelopment Area without council approval; as of Wednesday morning, the general counsel’s office had yet to prepare a legal opinion, though it will be available later in the week.

To be added to the CIP: remedies for “water intrusion” issues at Fire Station #20, at a cost of $285,159 of borrowed funds for the next fiscal year. Apparently, this is one of a few “leaky fire stations,” to quote Councilman Anderson.

In the IT plan, it has been revealed that the project to replace the city’s antiquated Financial Accounting Management Information System is out for bid. True costs are, of course, pending bids.

$12.2 million has been earmarked for this in the plan.

This letter-to-the-editor is all #$@&%*! class — and NSFW

In response to a rather benign story we published about the latest mailer from opponents of the medical marijuana initiative, we received the email below from the obviously charming Thomas Soldo of Hernando.

Obscene letters-to-the-editor are nothing new to us here at Florida Politics. What is surprising is that Mr. Soldo had the courage to call someone a #$@&%*! #$@&%*! while attaching his home address, email and phone number. We assume he did this so we could share this information with our audience.

We are happy to oblige him.

After all, it’s clear Mr. Soldo is a classy guy.


Why 5 former Florida Supreme Court justices oppose Amendment 2

As former Florida Supreme Court Justices, we once took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the State of Florida.

Today, we urge all Floridians to protect and defend our constitution by once again voting “No” on Amendment 2.

The amendment’s sponsors say they fixed the problems that caused Floridians to reject a similar amendment two years ago. We have read this revised amendment and have studied its impact. This amendment is still defective and again should be rejected. Here are five problems we see with Amendment 2:

First, Amendment 2 is a much broader authorization for marijuana use than its sponsors might suggest. The amendment is not limited to doctors prescribing marijuana as a compassionate, alternative treatment for debilitating medical conditions. Instead, it makes marijuana available merely on the “recommendation” of any doctor who believes its use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

This subtle difference between allowing a doctor to prescribe marijuana as a compassionate, alternative treatment and a person obtaining marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation that its use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks” is significant. And though the amendment lists several serious conditions for which this “recommendation” may be given, it adds a very broad provision allowing the use of marijuana for conditions “ … of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated …”

The result is an amendment that will open wide the door to marijuana use regardless of its need as a compassionate, alternative treatment option.

Second, this marijuana will not be sold at our pharmacies, but at new “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” referred to as “pot shops” in states that have passed similar measures. State economists estimate there will be over 2000 such pot shops in Florida — that’s more pot shops in Florida than McDonald’s, 7-11’s and Starbucks combined.

Ironically, even though sponsors say the new version of Amendment 2 provides for narrower use of pot than the version voters rejected two years ago, these economists predict more marijuana users and more pot shops if this version passes than the previous version. One need only look at the experience with such pot shops in other states to understand the unintended consequences of such an amendment.

Third, Amendment 2 includes a right to privacy for medical marijuana users over 18 years old. As other states have experienced, an unintended consequence of such a provision will be the impact in our high schools.

Since most youths turn 18 before graduating from high school, the amendment will create a new pipeline for pot into high schools throughout Florida.

Fourth, Amendment 2 creates the role of medical marijuana “caregiver.” Florida’s Department of Health estimates that, if Amendment 2 passes, there will be approximately 130,844 medical marijuana caregivers.

The version voters rejected two years ago limited caregivers to five medical marijuana “patients.” This large number of caregivers increases the likelihood that caregivers under Amendment 2 will simply be people who can legally deal drugs. Yet another undisclosed, unintended consequence?!

Finally, and most importantly, the use of marijuana does not belong in our Florida Constitution.

Approval of Amendment 2 would make Florida one of only three states with the right to marijuana in its state constitution. Other states that have authorized medical marijuana have done so by statutory laws. This approach has allowed the legislatures in these state to modify their laws to make them more effective and to deal with a host of unintended consequences.

If we enshrine Amendment 2 in our Florida Constitution, the people of Florida will forfeit their ability to legislatively improve the law and to address the inevitable unintended consequences. In fact, “medical marijuana” is already available in Florida.

Several years ago, our elected representatives in the Florida Legislature legalized medical marijuana by making low-THC marijuana available to treat seizures; and, they recently gave patients with terminal conditions access to marijuana to alleviate pain during their last year of life.

If broader access to marijuana is needed, Floridian should assure our elected representative do so legislatively.

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes is an issue on which reasonable people disagree. But all should agree that imbedding Amendment 2, as written, into our constitution is a very bad idea. Other states have experienced a host of unintended and undesirable consequences when they have legalized marijuana use. The same will occur here. Given this indisputable fact, we believe Floridians should agree that this amendment does not belong in Florida’s Constitution.

Instead, the use of marijuana should continue to be addressed through the legislative process.

As former Florida Supreme Court Justices who love Florida and its great Constitution, we urge voters to protect and defend our Constitution and the fundamental principles of representative form of government by voting “No” on Amendment 2.


Parker Lee McDonald, Chief Justice 1986-1988; Justice 1979-1994 Stephen H. Grimes, Chief Justice 1994-1996; Justice 1987-1997 Major B. Harding, Chief Justice 2000-2002; Justice 1994-2009 Raoul G. Cantero, III, Justice 2002-2008; Kenneth B. Bell, Justice 2002-2008.


Sheldon Adelson gives $1M to Drug Free Florida

Drug Free Florida saw a big fundraising period, raising more than $1 million in one week.

State records show the organization raised more than $1.02 million between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9, the most recent fundraising period. That sum includes a $1 million contribution from Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and opponent of the medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Adelson was a major backer of the opposition campaign in 2014. Records show he gave $5.5 million to Drug Free Florida in 2014. According to the Washington Post, Adelson, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, was responsible for 85 percent of the money raised by Drug Free Florida.

The committee ran a successful campaign against the 2014 medical marijuana amendment. That proposal received 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

The current proposal allows people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

Recent polling found 70 percent of likely Florida voters said they support the 2016 ballot initiative.

People United for Medical Marijuana, the group behind the United for Care campaign, raised $9,231 during the fundraising period. On Friday afternoon, the committee sent an email to supporters asking them to donate.

“We can’t allow this to go unanswered,” the fundraising email reads. “We must raise money to stay as close as we can.”

John Morgan to host fundraiser for Hillary Clinton

Orlando Democratic fundraiser and medical marijuana champion John Morgan is hosting Hillary Clinton for a fundraiser at his Heathrow home in Lake Mary on Sept. 21.

Morgan has long and deep ties with the Clintons, having thrown his first major fundraiser for Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, and a history of hosting events for other Democrats including President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren. He also hosted a fundraiser featuring Bill Clinton last spring.

Yet for all of this year he’s been focused on his latest drive to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, Amendment 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot. His late-in-the-season fundraiser for Hillary Clinton signals his confidence in the marijuana amendment, which has shown a comfortable lead in recent polls.

Admission costs a minimum of $2,700 a person, with various contributor levels going as high as $100,000 for anyone who wants to be a chair of the effort.

The donated money will be split between Hillary Clinton’s official campaign, Hillary For America, the Democratic National Committee and the state Democratic parties in 38 states, including Florida.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons