Drug Free Florida Group Airs Misleading Ad About Medical Marijuana

Drug Free Florida benefactor Sheldon Adelson

Drug Free Florida benefactor Sheldon Adelson

With the big bucks of Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson backing them financially, opponents of the medical marijuana amendment on Florida’s November ballot are resorting to disengenous propganda tactics to defeat the popular measure. On Monday, the Drug Free Florida political action committee took to the air waves with a $1.5 million TV ad campaign that demonizes “caregivers,” people who make a living providing medical marijuana patients, whether it’s growing it or picking it up at a dispensary for them.

The TV spot has yet to appear online, but it is the typical fare meant to scare voters into believing the Sunshine State is going to be overrun by drug cartels and gang bangers looking to legitimize their marijuana trade. “Amendment 2 isn’t what it seems,” an ominous voice tells viewers. “Its caregiver provision gives legal protection to marijuana dealers. Even felons and drug dealers could be caregivers.”

“Our ad buy is all about the commitment we have to the voters – to make sure they understand the real motivation behind this effort and how bad it is for our state. And that will not stop until Election Day,” said Drug Free Florida’s spokeswoman, Sarah Bascom.

Drug Free Florida’s ad asserts that the amendment, which is hovering between 60 to 71 percent support, creates loopholes that will allow caregivers to serve as drug dealers, without criminal background checks. “So what looks like a safeguard is really a loophole,” the ad says. “They don’t call it the Drug Dealer Protection Act, but they should.”

It’s not the first time the group has stooped to the lowest level of political chicanery. In August, Drug Free Florida posted a video on its Facebook page making the audacious claim that medical marijuana leads to date rape.

John Morgan, a prominent lawyer from Orlando, FL, who has contributed $3.8 million of the $5.4 million that’s been collected in support of the amendment, called the ad tasteless and crass. “I’m mad as hell,” Morgan said. “It’s offensive, tone-deaf, and yet – they’re blasting it out everywhere with millions of dollars behind it.”

Morgan is using the offensive ad to rally donors to contribute to his cause. He and Barbara Stiefel, a prominent philanthropist from Coral Gables, FL, have pledged to each match contributions made by supporters until midnight tonight.

Drug Free Florida’s statewide ad blitz coincides with the first batch of absentee ballots sent to voters by mail, according to the Miami Herald. Republicans and conservatives are the most-likely to vote by absentee ballot and the least-likely to support the proposed constitutional amendment, which needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.

While Democrats and independents are polling between 61 to 70 percent in favor of medical marijuana, Republicans favor it by less than 60 percent. The Herald noted that the ads will mostly be seen in conservative North Florida.

The article also questions if Morgan will continue to spend millions of his own dollars given that he can’t compete with the deep pockets of Adelson, whom critics believe is only backing Drug Free Florida to get in the good graces of Gov. Rick Scott, who opposes medical marijuana. After all, Adelson has funded medical-marijuana research in Israel and his home state of Nevada has a more medical-marijuana law than the amendment being proposed in Florida. The running theory is that Adelson expects Scott to allow gambling in the state should the governor win re-election and the medical marijuana amendment is defeated.