Medical marijuana opponents look to snuff out support for November ballot measure

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, speak against Amendment 2

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, speak against Amendment 2

With polls showing Floridians on course to approve a medical marijuana ballot measure in November, opposition stepped up their arguments Friday against the proposal.

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, cited what they called problems with Amendment 2 that should cause voters to reconsider their support.

Latvala also bottom-lined his opposition.

“I don’t want this to come to Florida,” said Latvala, who has put $100,000 of his own re-election campaign money toward buying an anti-Amendment 2 TV ad in the Tampa Bay market.

Bell is among five former Supreme Court justices fighting the measure, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2. He warned the amendment has “flaws,” which included questions about whether local governments could impose strict zoning regulations on marijuana distribution centers, or if the Legislature could ban such items as pot candy.

The measure needs to win approval from at least 60 percent of Florida voters on Nov. 9, with polls showing support now topping 70 percent. A similar measure narrowly two years ago narrowly missed reaching the 60 percent standard.

Latvala said there was still time to reverse public opinion. Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently weighed in with a $1 million contribution to the opposition campaign, but its finances still don’t look potent enough to mount a major statewide TV campaign.

Supporters are led by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who spent millions on the effort a couple years ago. This time, most of People United for Medical Marijuana has spent most of its money on petition signature-gathering to qualify for the ballot.

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