With about 90 percent of Florida’s voters polling in favor of legal, medical marijuana, the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 stands a good chance of passing in November when it hits the ballots. However, there is still a handful of “cranky, zany old people” looking to snuff the law dead in its tracks, and in a very manipulative, archaic way. Some of their tactics could be comfortably written into the laughable plot of “Reefer Madness.”
Lee Fang, analyst for The Nation and Vice, reported an array of manipulative and hypocritical measures in which the Republican base of marijuana opposers are fighting the legislation. Sheldon Adelson is a casino executive who donates absurd amounts of money to Republican causes. Recently, Adelson, a Las Vegas resident, gave $2.5 million to Drug Free Florida to fight medical marijuana, which is seemingly normal and unsurprising for a man like him. However, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, give equally absurd amounts of money to help fund medical marijuana treatment in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Why the contradictory actions?
It turns out that there are huge prospects to develop the gaming industry in Florida, and Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is wanting to tap into that market. The market is controlled by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the state’s deal with the tribe ends next year. Adelson thinks that if medical marijuana gets blocked in Florida, there will be a better chance of getting into Florida’s gaming industry, should Gov. Rick Scott retain his office in Tallahassee.
This next issue is not specific to Florida, but is an interest to one of the law’s biggest opponents: the cops. Law enforcement agencies benefit far and away more than any other group nationwide. Big drug busts equal big cash payouts for law enforcement. That military-like equipment that the Ferguson police are using to siege against protesters in Missouri are probably paid for mostly with drug-bust money.
The money comes mainly from property seized during the busts that police departments then liquidize into cash via police auctions. Fang reported that law enforcement agencies nationwide have made over $1 billion employing the asset forfeiture process.
All of these tactics, however, pale in comparison to the layered and bizarre opposition coming from the Save Our Society From Drugs and the Drug Free America Foundation founders, Mel and Betty Sembler. What’s so outrageous about these two playing the “think-of-the-children” angle is that the Semblers founded and ran STRAIGHT Inc., a rehab center for juveniles.
Before shutting down, STRAIGHT Inc. develop a sinister reputation of being a torture mill for minors as dozens of reports surfaced describing beatings, rape, and other abuses. Ring of Fire reported on STRAIGHT Inc. several months ago, noting the Semblers close ties with Gov. Scott. One report dating back to 1980 described the case of 13-year old Samantha Monroe. Monroe was starved, raped, and locked inside of closets. In a punishment called “humble pants,” Monroe was locked in a closet for several days, forcing her to “soil her pants with urine, feces, and menstrual blood.”
This year, Mel Sembler has spent at least $100,000 on the Drug Free Florida campaign against medical marijuana while releasing anti-pot propaganda packed with manipulative misinformation across the state. How can someone like this do something “for the kids” when his legacy has damaged so many children in its wake?
Nearly all of the medical marijuana opposers are connected anyway: Sembler’s group, the Drug Free America Foundation, are in cahoots with the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Office of Drug Control, and the Florida Sheriff’s Association, Fang reported.
It appears that marijuana opposition in Florida is nothing more than an interconnected fraternity of GOP donors, money-grubbing cops, and business executives; a small circle of self-congratulating good ol’ boys. Southern-style nepotism at its finest.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.