So we've seen the polls showing the race starting to tighten between Tea Party Governor Rick Scott (R. FL) and Charlie Crist (D. FL).  Scott's early negative ad campaign against Crist has help shrink his lead but Scott still remains in the low 40s.  Well this is going to be a game changer that I think will work in Crist's favor:


Gambling mogul and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson has spent $2.5 million to oppose Florida’s medical marijuana ballot initiative, according to filings reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times. The major donation signals what may be the most moneyed opposition to a medical marijuana initiative yet. It also comes from a particularly unlikely source.

Adelson spent nearly $150 million to elect Republicans in 2012, but he has veered away from targeting cultural issues. He made his billions on gambling — considered a vice by most — and describes himself as “socially very liberal. Too liberal” — a refrain he has repeated over the years.

Adelson doesn’t appear to have staked a position on marijuana. But his contribution may have more to do with the governor’s race, which pits Gov. Rick Scott (R), a vocal opponent of the initiative, against former Gov. Charlie Christ (D), who announced his support in January. Polling shows support for medical marijuana is soaring among Floridians, and many have projected that the initiative could swing the outcome of the race, in large part by boosting youth turnout.

Adelson is backing a committee known as the Drug Free Florida Committee formed by Mel Sembler. That committee has raised a total of $2.7 million so far, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Sembler, who bankrolled opposition to Colorado’s recreational legalization initiative, once oversaw a chain of drug abuse treatment centers for teens, at which allegations have emerged of beatings, rape and psychological abuse. A separate opposition movement was also announced Tuesday by the Florida Sheriffs Association to defeat Amendment Two, with the slogan “Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot.”

Polls have found that support for the initiative is as high as 82 percent, although two polls released Tuesday measured support at 70 and 66 percent. When the amendment was first proposed, many Republicans were vehemently opposed, launching a failed legal challenge to block the initiative and warning it would lead to the “Coloradoification” of the state. But in a remarkable shift that may have been aimed at diverting support from the ballot initiative, a much narrower medical marijuana bill to allow the strain of marijuana low in the psychoactive component in some limited circumstances passed with near-universal support in May. In committing to sign the bill, Gov. Rick Scott (R) said “I’m a parent and a grandparent. I want to make sure my children, my grandchildren have access to the health care they want.” He remains opposed to the medical marijuana ballot initiative, which would give more patients access to various types of medical marijuana thought to help a broader range of medical conditions, and allow patients to smoke it. - Think Progress, 6/11/14

Wow.  What an insanely stupid move.  I mean with this high (no pun intended (ok pun intended)) support for medical marijuana in Florida and not to mention Adelson backing one of the most unpopular governors in the country, his campaign against medical marijuana is sure to put the light on Scott's opposition to medical marijuana.  Which may be the reason why Scott doesn't want to talk about Adelson:


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 18:  Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during the Governor's Hurricane Conference General Session at the  Broward County Convention Center on May 18, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.The conference was established to focus on the challenges caused by hurricanes and tropical events unique to Florida. Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Question: Do you think Sheldon Adelson gave to the anti-medical marijuana effort to help you or to stop gambling expansion in Florida?

Scott: You’d have to ask Sheldon.

Scott press aide: Last question.

Question: You don’t have a view on it?

Scott: You’d have to ask Sheldon.

Scott press aide: Last question.

Adelson, who is the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the most powerful forces in Republican politics because of his willingess to write large checks for political causes.

His money kept Newt Gingrich in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination long after his other sources of money were drying up and his campaign otherwise would have faltered. Earlier this year, he summoned many of the leading potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates for a weekend retreat in Las Vegas so he and other leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition could size up the field. (Adelson is the major financial backer of the RJC.)

Adelson also has been active in efforts to stop gambling expansion that could compete with his Las Vegas operation.

There’s plenty of politics at work on the other side. Many political insiders think the effort to legalize medical marijuana – bankrolled by John Morgan, whose law firm employs Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist – is an effort to help increase turnout of Democratic-leaning voters in November.

United for Care, the organization promoting the medical marijuana effort denounced Adelson’s contribution on Tuesday.

“Sheldon Adelson is widely known for using his massive financial resources to try to crush those fighting for the rights of the little guy,” campaign manager Ben Pollara said in a statement. “I suppose bankrolling those who oppose the right of patients with debilitating diseases to have access to the medicine they need must come quite naturally to him.” - Sun-Sentinel, 6/11/14

Of course Adelson isn't the only one bringing attention to this issue by voicing their opposition to medical marijuana:


The head of the Florida Sheriffs Association said Wednesday the medical-marijuana constitutional amendment on the November ballot is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that will lead to Colorado-style legalization of recreational pot puffing.

And rather than reducing marijuana arrests, Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County predicted, Amendment 2 on the November ballot will lead to more arrests. He said there will be huge taxpayer costs for regulation and lawsuits by jail inmates and other would-be “patients” seeking a medical marijuana use.

Judd and Bruce Grant, a former state drug-policy chief who chairs the Responsible Decision Making Coalition in Leon County, met with the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board to discuss the FSA’s statewide “educational campaign” against Amendment 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“This is simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Judd said. “It is not about medicinal use of marijuana, it’s about legalizing marijuana.”

The amendment, placed on the ballot by a public-initiative campaign, would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for debilitating diseases. But it also gives physicians discretion to prescribe pot whenever they believe benefits outweigh potential risks. - Tallahassee Democrat, 6/11/14

Crist is a big time supporter of medical marijuana and Adelson and Judd just made life a little more difficult for Scott.  By bringing attention to this issue, it's sure to spur turn out and turn out is key for Crist's win.  So lets help Crist get ready to take down Scott in November.  Click here to donate and get involved with Crist's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by North & Central Florida Kossacks, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Youth Kos 2.0, and DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform.

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