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Florida: Medical Marijuana Initiative at War with Drug Free America

Florida Cannabis Now Magazine
Photo by Gabe Popa


Florida: Medical Marijuana Initiative at War with Drug Free America

The rematch over the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida may actually come down to a round of fisticuffs before the campaign is all said and done.

The founder of Drug Free America, Mel Sembler, and John Morgan, the high-powered attorney behind the state’s medical marijuana initiative — Amendment 2 — have been in a heated war of words for the past week over Sembler’s recent comments about investing a fortune to keep medical marijuana from being realized in the Sunshine State.

Arguing that his organization was “trying to save lives and people’s brains,” Sembler told the Tampa Bay Times last week that he and his wife Betty were planning to sink at least $10 million into sabotage tactics aimed at preventing Morgan’s crew — United for Care — from pushing through a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow patients suffering from “debilitating medical conditions” to gain access to medical marijuana.

“It’s not a medicine,” Sembler said.

Of course, once the word hit the street that dimwitted prohibitionists were coming to take him down in the same way they succeeded in doing in 2014, Morgan unleashed a few statements of his own against the threats. In a message telling Sembler to “BRING. IT. ON,” Morgan said no amount of money coming from the pockets of opposing forces would be able to deter United for Care from bringing its medical marijuana initiative to fruition this November. He later called Sembler “Mel the Moocher” because over 90 percent of $7.5 million raised in 2014 to stop United for Care was other people’s money.

“It’s easy to talk a big game when you’re spending your rich Uncle Shelly’s money, I guess,” Morgan told Cannabis Now in an emailed statement. “Mel’s all hat, no cattle. If there is one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s bullies. I’ve made my living beating up bullies. Mel the Moocher is a bully.”

Although United Care encountered more opposition than Drug Free America during their first attempt to legalize, the organization’s second shot at getting Amendment 2 on the ballot has been without issue. In fact, none of the opposing forces from 2014, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, stood up to dispute the proposal when it was slated for hearing earlier this year before the Florida Supreme Court. In the past, these groups sunk a significant amount of cash into preventing medical marijuana from being legalized, even getting some help from casino kingpin Sheldon Anderson to the tune of $5 million.

Despite the bankroll intended to turn voters against Amendment 2, United for Care’s initiative managed to secure 58 percentof the votes in 2014 – needing 60 percent to become law. It is for this reason — not to mention the increasing support in Florida for the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana — that organizers feel confident that voters will approve Amendment 2 this year.

“Mel Sembler can spend whatever he wants to try and deny sick and suffering Floridians relief in the form of medical marijuana, but the will of the people is stronger than his money,” Ben Pollara of United for Care told Tampa Bay Times. “United for Care will wage a statewide campaign to counter Sembler’s dishonest attacks and medical marijuana will pass in November.”

What do you think? Will medical marijuana succeed in Florida in 2016?

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