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Fight Against Medical Pot in Florida Heats Up

Las Vegas kingpin Sheldon Adelson is using his vast wealth to meddle in an election 2,000 miles away from home.

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Wiki Commons

By Victoria Kim

06/18/14

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In Florida, the opposition to medical marijuana legalization is gaining steam. It was revealed last week that casino magnate and owner of the Las Vegas Sands empire, Sheldon Adelson, has been a major contributor to the effort against a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida - Amendment 2 on the November ballot. Adelson donated $2.5 million of his $37 billion fortune to the “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” effort.

Also last week, a separate statewide campaign to defeat the amendment was launched by a coalition led by the Florida Sheriffs Association. “This amendment as a matter of fact is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association. Judd predicted an increase in crime. “You will pay more for taxes because it’s going to take more policing,” he said.

The “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” coalition argues the amendment will open the door to “unfettered” access to marijuana because of poorly worded legislation and lax regulation. Calvina Fay, director of the St. Petersburg-based Drug Free America predicted the amendment would lead to the “Wild Wild West of potent marijuana products.”

Amendment 2 would require doctors and patients to be certified before receiving marijuana through authorized dispensaries. Eligible medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Despite the growing opposition and millionaire backing to keep medical marijuana from becoming legal in Florida, medical marijuana legalization has majority support in the state. A United for Care poll found that about 70 percent of likely Florida voters support the amendment proposal, while another poll by Public Policy Polling found about 66 percent support.

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