Florida, can we talk? We've known each other for a long, long time. I remember growing up just thirty minutes away from you, constantly begging my parents to take me to see your sandy-white beaches each and every year. I remember spending my summers marveling at the size of the catfish you were able to grow for me to catch. And The Mouse. I would have stolen a car to go see The Mouse if I thought I could have found my way there. And because so much of my family was spread out between South Georgia (a robber will shoot you with a pistol in Bristol, old Uncle Blaney used to say) and West Palm Beach you always treated me like one of your own. That's why it pains me that you would let some outside billionaire come in and take medicine away from sick people by playing the old "Hey, look over there!" game.
I'm not mad at you Florida, but we need to set a few things straight before 2016 rolls around. So I'm going to lay down some facts and you are going to want to take notes. Go ahead and grab a pencil, everyone else will watch this video while we wait for you. They need to see what YOU have been seeing for the last several months.
Separating Fact From Fiction
For those that don't know, Floridians were recently bombarded by one of the most prolonged horrendously-successful propaganda campaigns in the history of the United States. Despite the fact that well over 60% of Florida's citizens reported in polls over the summer that they were ready to end the war on patients, Florida was sidetracked by some of the most blatantly false advertising ever seen on U.S. television. This propaganda campaign was designed for one audience and one audience only: Florida's enormous population of retired and aging citizens. It was such a well-executed campaign that just enough "older" people showed up to vote against Amendment 2, defeating the measure despite the fact that more than 57% voted IN FAVOR of medical marijuana, falling just shy of the required super majority of 60%.
The "No on 2" campaign ran a despicably dishonest campaign and it is crucial that Floridians are able to identify these tactics when given the chance to vote on the issue again in 2016 if they are to stand any chance of ending the war on medical marijuana patients.
FACT: At least 85% of the $5 million spent on anti-Amendment 2 propaganda in Florida came from out of state
Though Florida medical marijuana proponents outspent prohibitionists by somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million, the biggest chunk of United for Care's money was spent just to get the measure on the ballot. This left UFC with precious little money to spend on marketing in the home stretch. By contrast, out-of-state special interests were able to wait until most of the nut had already been spent before they even had to open their checkbook.
FACT: A "No on 2" Vote is a "Yes" Vote for Casinos
That outside money I was talking about? Nearly every bit of it was spent by Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson. Every commercial you watched and every full-page newspaper advertisement you read was paid for by a man who is fighting the Seminole Indians for control of Florida's casino industry. This is a point I hope I can get across to the huge chunk of Christian voters in Florida that voted against medical marijuana. Although you were told by your pastors that you were keeping the devil out of your state, what you actually did was vote against compassion and for greed. If you can watch these videos and still tell me with a straight face that cannabis is not medicine then there is nothing I can say to convince you otherwise.
FACT: Sheldon Adelson Invests in Medical Marijuana in Israel
Well if this ain't the pot calling the kettle black. The billionaire from Las Vegas that was so worried about Florida becoming a state full of stoners (don't worry, this is still ok) continues to pump money into cannabinoid research in Israel. From the Tampa Bay Times:
But in the nation of Israel – a world leader in medical marijuana studies and use – Adelson’s money has helped further research into medical cannabis. Researchers with the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Tel Aviv University have reportedly made advances in studying how marijuana and its associated chemicals can potentially mitigate brain injuries or reduce the symptoms of degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
According to a study, led by the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Tel Aviv University, "some of the chemical compounds found in marijuana can help treat MS-like diseases in mice."
FACT: Your Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Lied to You
Anyone who has spent any time in Florida with a television on in the last couple of months knows who the face of the No on 2 campaign was: Florida's law enforcement leaders. The Florida Sheriffs Association went all-in to protect civil asset forfeiture in Florida by opposing 2, thus ensuring a steady income for Florida's under-funded police departments and sheriffs offices. The statements made by Florida's law enforcement executives to defeat Amendment 2 were so ludicrous and slanderous they prompted United for Care to threaten to sue to stop local television from airing blatantly false ads claiming Amendment 2 would allow children to access marijuana.
FACT: You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet
The very moment the final vote was counted Tuesday night United for Care's largest supporter, John Morgan (and many many others), pledged to press forward and fix this whole screwed up mess in 2016. In fact, 2016 is seen by many in the cannabis reform movement as the year for the greatest push ever seen in the history of marijuana law reform and Florida is going to get a HUGE mulligan on this one.
If you think we are going to be quiet and go away you are sadly, sadly mistaken Florida. I don't think anyone in this movement sees Florida as a failure. Instead, everyone I know sees this as an opportunity to not just get it right in two years, but to knock it out of the park. You see, the fact that nearly 60% of your voters validated medical marijuana has given renewed hope to other state legalization organizations across the South that change is just around the corner.
Over the next two years, your first attempt to legalize medical marijuana will spur other groups across the South to rise up and thrust harder for meaningful marijuana law reform. States that allow similar citizen-led initiatives, such as Mississippi, will craft intelligent marijuana and hemp legislation for their citizens to vote on, and groups in states like Georgia, where we must rely on our elected politicians to look after our every need, will spend millions of dollars on lobbyists and voter education in order to make our voices heard in one of the largest human rights issues of our time. We WILL be heard and we WILL NOT back down until the job is done.
See you soon Florida. Let's do lunch.