Who's Giving Money to Florida's Medical Marijuana Campaigns?

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A7nubis via Wikimedia Commons
With a November ballot initiative teed up for medical marijuana, the camps working both sides of the issue are now deep in the trenches, trying to lure voters. Cold, hard cash is obviously powering the efforts, which begs the question: Where's the money coming from?

In both camps, big-money donors are footing most of the bill. But in terms of the pro-pot movement, two main funders are being underwritten by thousands of contributors from across the state -- moms and pops and potheads opening their wallets for $50 and $100 donations.

In between, though, there's another, sizable camp -- the midsize givers who have handed over five-figure sums, sometimes several times. It's a key group in the fight to bring legal medical weed to Florida, and records show it's an eclectic assortment: from local attorneys to sports agents and out-of-state pot entrepreneurs to reptile sellers.

Campaign documents show that the People United for Medical Marijuana's piggy bank is filled with around $5.5 million from 5,659 gifts. Most of that cash came from two sources: movement leader John Morgan and Democratic cause sugar mama Barbara Stiefel.

But out-of-state weed interests are also getting in on the action. Denver and Irvine-based Ghost Group, a private firm with fingers in dozens of medical marijuana websites and ventures, gave $10,000 to the campaign. Scott Dittman -- CEO of Fusion Pharm Inc., a company that tricks out shipping containers as grow houses -- dropped $40,000. The Harborside Health Center, an Oakland cannabis dispensary, forked over $20,000.

Across Florida, the mix of midsized givers includes oddball companies and no-name outfits. Int. Sports Managing, which lists its address as a West Kendall apartment, gave $50,000. Harrison's Organic Acres in Palm Beach also kicked in $50,000. Manchester Capital, based in Plantation, mailed in $30,000. Hollywood-based Alternative Fuels Americas Inc. spent $10,000, the same figure contributed by Miami-based criminal defense firm Jeffrey Feiler PA. Ben Siegel Reptiles, a Deerfield Beach wholesaler of slithery pets, also sent a check for $10,000.

"I believe as a country, not just in Florida, we should be allowed to choose the option of medical cannabis to treat ailments," Siegel says. "If alcohol and tobacco are legal, it seems a little bit odd that cannabis should not be, especially with the new research showing its many untapped benefits. I got to watch my father, my best friend, die of liver cancer slowly over three years. The only relief he could get was from painkillers that were damaging the very organ he was trying to fix. It was a terrible Catch-22 that could have been avoided had medicinal marijuana been an option."

The real contrast between the yea and nay campaigns for medical marijuana becomes apparent in the financials of People United for Medical Marijuana's foe, Drug Free Florida Committee. That group, with $2.7 million, has been funded by only 15 contributions, including $2.5 million from Sheldon Adelson, $100,000 from Drug Free America Foundation founder Mel Sembler, and $25,000 from former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Alfred Hoffman Jr. The regular Joes and the midfigure funders are nowhere to be found.



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4 comments
kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

"$100,000 from Drug Free America Foundation founder Mel Sembler, "


"But the real icon of drug policy in Romney’s campaign, deeply involved to this day, is Melvin Sembler, a Florida strip-mall magnate who was a national fundraising chair for Romney in 2008 and is again a Florida State Co-Chair for Romney’s finance committee.


Mel Sembler’s name is most likely to strike fear into the hearts of anyone involved in teen drug rehabs. Sembler and his wife, Betty, founded a chain of such institutions under the name Straight, Inc., which at its peak in the ‘80s had 12 clinics in nine states and a track record of extreme abuse.


In one of many stories from Straight that have been exposed, a teenage girl testified to being compelled into the program after being caught with an airline bottle of liquor given to her by a friend, and then beaten, raped, locked in a janitor’s closet in pants soiled by urine, feces, and menstrual blood..


Newton, who held a PhD in public administration from an unaccredited institution, was chosen by the Semblers to be their national clinical director. He has had to pay out over $12 million in damages to his victims, who he has thrown against walls, held against their will, kidnapped, restrained in leg irons, forced into servitude, and otherwise abused."


Source: http://www.thefix.com/content/romney-sembler-drug-advisor-teen-rehab-abuse8515


jerrybbenson
jerrybbenson

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sweetcookies3333
sweetcookies3333

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13


ENLIGHTENMENT...i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old...i hated gays, immigrants, women's rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh's #1 fan....until i smoked marijuana, changed the world....hope the EVIL POPE is enjoying the marijuana revolution around the globe, keeping the flock brainwashed and against marijuana, gays, and women's rights...you don't deny ease from pain and suffering for billions of people unless you are PURE EVIL...

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

hempstaff
hempstaff topcommenter

Thank You Mr. Morgan!   We can do this Florida!


VOTE YES on #2!   Looking to work in the Florida Medical Cannabis Industry?  Register Now at www.hempstaff.com

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