Locals in Jacksonville had not paid much attention to Alex Patton, a Gainesville Republican political consultant, until relatively recently. However, he and his front group, PausePot.org, managed to insinuate themselves into the local political discourse two weeks ago by getting a moratorium banning Charlotte’s Web cultivation, distribution, or processing for 180 days.
The moratorium was passed at the end of a long evening, in which the latest iteration of a Police and Fire Pension Deal was passed. The media had checked out; whatever debate had happened was before the City Council meeting began officially.
As Christopher Hong wrote in the Florida Times-Union (link above), there were methodological questions about his approach to Council. Patton emailed Council President Clay Yarborough, looking for a “champion” on this issue in Jacksonville, and Yarborough and Councilman Richard Clark took the bait, even before Patton registered as a lobbyist.
Patton may be new to the game locally, but being the GOP go-to source on anti-cannabis messaging is not so new to him.
In 2014, Patton was a quote machine on Amendment 2.
“It is no coincidence that Charlie Crist’s law partner and biggest supporter, John Morgan, is financing medical marijuana,” he said to one outlet. To another, Patton said that MMJ was an issue the Democrats could use to “pump up the youth vote.”
Of course, Amendment 2 did not drive the youth vote in significant enough numbers to Crist, though the measure did outpoll the Democratic candidate by 10 points. What is clear, however, is that Patton learned a valuable lesson: namely, that there is a market niche in capitalizing on Reefer Madness hysteria, which, after all these years, has yet to die fully in NE Florida.
In that spirit, note the language of the “petition” on PausePot.Org: