With time running out before the November election, campaign finance reports show that committees on both sides of a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Florida received major cash infusions last week.
Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pumped another $500,000 into the effort to kill the proposed constitutional amendment, according to the latest campaign finance reports posted by the state Division of Elections on Friday. Adelson's contribution on Sept. 30 comes weeks after he gave the Drug Free Florida Committee $1 million to fight the initiative, which mirrors a similar 2014 proposal that narrowly failed to capture the required 60 percent approval from voters to pass. Adelson, whose son died of a drug overdose, contributed $5.5 million to defeat the effort two years ago.
The campaign finance reports, which cover the week of Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, show the committee received $560,525 last week, including a $60,000 contribution from the Pensacola-based Levin Papantonio firm. The law firm is headed by Fred Levin, a trial lawyer and major Democratic fundraiser for whom the University of Florida law school is named. Robert Loehr, a Pensacola attorney who works for the Levin Papantonio firm, is a manager of a corporation linked to Loop's Nursery, a Jacksonville-based grower that unsuccessfully attempted to get a license to sell medical marijuana in Florida.
Meanwhile, backers of Amendment 2 received $1.07 million last week, including a $1 million contribution from Washington, D.C.-based New Approach PAC. People United for Medical Marijuana, a pro-amendment political committee also known as United for Care, also received a $50,000 contribution from John Curtin, a Naples real estate investor.
The committee — chaired by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has largely bankrolled the Florida medical marijuana effort by contributing at least $2.6 million of his and his law firm's money this election cycle — spent $326,438 last week, the campaign reports show. Drug Free Florida, which recently released a second television ad, spent $704,389 last week.