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Opponents Launch Salvo Against Marijuana Amendment

(Rusty Blazenhoff/Flickr)
(Rusty Blazenhoff/Flickr)

TALLAHASSEE - Opponents of a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana gave a glimpse of their strategy Monday by releasing a video alleging the measure would lead to a plethora of "pot shops" similar to the marijuana industry in California.

The video, posted online by the"Vote No on 2 Campaign" also compared the proposal to a medical-marijuana initiative that Florida voters narrowly rejected in 2014. Opponents argued the 2014 proposal was riddled with loopholes that could have led to a wide-open marijuana industry in the state.

The video made similar assertions about this year's initiative, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 2.

"Looks like Amendment 2 is still a scam to legalize pot," the video said.

The video came after the release last week of a Quinnipiac University poll that indicated 80 percent of Florida voters support the ballot initiative. It also came after a national medical-marijuana trade show was held in Kissimmee, as the industry eyes Florida as huge potential market.

People United for Medical Marijuana, a group sponsoring the legalization effort, tweaked the language of this year's proposed constitutional amendment to try to help inoculate it from the types of criticism raised about the 2014 measure.

Prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has largely bankrolled efforts to pass the proposal, said during the trade show that the future of medical marijuana has reached a "tipping point" in Florida and the nation.

"There is no state in the union that is more ready for this industry than this state," said Morgan, whose group also goes by the name United for Care.

The "Vote No on 2 Campaign" is backed by a group known as the Drug Free Florida Committee. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson contributed $5.5 million to the Drug Free Florida committee to help block the 2014 initiative. A newly filed campaign-finance report shows the group raised only $1,000 during the first four months of 2016 and had $37,000 in cash on hand as of April 30.

The 2014 proposal also received overwhelming support in early polls, with Adelson-funded ads largely credited for its ultimate failure to pass. Proposed constitutional amendments need support from 60 percent of voters, with the 2014 initiative receiving about 58 percent.

The nearly three-minute video released Monday is dubbed "Search" and shows a series of online searches with a male voice trying to connect the Florida initiative to "pot shops" in California.

"Oh yeah, perfect, gummy bears and candy bars. Sure looks like medicine," the voice says as the video displays different types of marijuana offerings listed online. "Eat until you feel better, right doc?"

The News Service of Florida is a wire service to which WUFT News subscribes.