Unless you have been living in a cave, you know that medical marijuana could become legal in Florida. This does not mean that it is going to be legal to outright possess marijuana. It will still be a crime to possess marijuana in Jacksonville. However, medicinal marijuana would be an exception to the rule. This is a hot button issue in Florida. There are people that strongly oppose the proposition. There are others that strongly support it. As you can imagine, the issue will probably bring more voters to the polls. Since 2014 is not a presidential election, many people decide not to vote. They do not take the election as seriously. Having the legalization of medical marijuana on the ballot will likely change this. The medical marijuana debate in Florida may also affect campaign contributions.
Yesterday, Action News in Jacksonville ran an interesting story about medical marijuana’s political influence in Florida. It noted that after the Florida Supreme Court ruled the medical marijuana would be on the ballot in November, “the Florida Sheriff’s Association came out against the measure.” As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, this was no shock to me. “Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and the nonpartisan Florida Sheriff’s Association for months had been the main opposition to those backing medical marijuana.” This has recently changed, as other organizations are showing their opposition and raising a lot of money for their cause. Action News reported, “Drug Free Florida has raised $2.7 million, with $100,000 from Republican donor Mel Sembler. Another $100,000 came from the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust, the family that owns Publix. And $2.5 million came from Sheldon Adleson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire.”
Those that support legalizing medical marijuana have also collected a significant amount of money. “People United for Medical Marijuana has collected $5.2 million.” Due to the money involved, this could affect politics in November. Rick Foglesong is a poltical analyst. He stated, “This infusion of cash on the other side has the potential to make this a more interesting race.” Action News further reported:
“Foglesong said Republicans and Democrats both see this as a way to drive voters to the polls. It’s a wedge issue that could potentially sway the governor’s race, as other hot button amendments have done in the past. ‘Medical marijuana, so-called, is the Democrat equivalent of anti-gay marriage referendums that Republicans used in other states, including Florida,’ Foglesong said.”
This reminds me of a well-known phrase, “Put your money where your mouth is.” That is certainly what people on both sides of the coin have done with the Florida medical marijuana debate.