Only One Guy in South Florida Gave Cash to Defeat Medical Pot, and He Gave Only $25

If money talks, South Florida is all about the medical weed.
If money talks, South Florida is all about the medical weed.

Florida sure looks like it's on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana. Poll after poll shows Amendment 2 riding well above the 60 percent threshold needed to pass. And although casino magnate and Trump BFF Sheldon Adelson has dropped $1.5 million to defeat the measure, that's way less than he spent two years ago, when voters narrowly missed passing medical pot.

But smaller donations also tell a story. And campaign finance reports suggest regular voters in South Florida are all about legalized weed.

In fact, only one person in Broward and Miami-Dade has given any money this year to Drug Free Florida, the group fighting Amendment 2. And that donor — a doctor who works as a professor at University of Miami — gave only $25.

The group backing Amendment 2, People United for Medical Marijuana, has taken in hundreds of small donations from South Floridians since last year, when the group mobilized to place the measure back on the ballot.

Of course, that money might not end up mattering as much to the final result as the big cash influxes from high-rollers. Both campaigns have serious sugar daddies — Tampa personal injury attorney John Morgan has put millions into the legalization effort, while Adelson and strip-mall guru Mel Sembler have each sunk small fortunes into the effort to stop Amendment 2.

But it must mean something that almost no one in South Florida is willing to spend cash against medical marijuana.

As for that one donor: It's Dr. Joshua Lenchus, president of the Jackson Health System medical staff and an associate professor of clinical medicine and anesthesiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Lenchus stresses that he made the donation as a private individual, not in his official capacity, and says he worries about the wording of the statute.

"In my opinion, the language leaves a wide variance in what constitutes 'debilitating medical conditions,'" he says in an email. "It leaves open the notion that marijuana can be recommended for nearly anyone and could lead to unscrupulous physician actions, akin to what we saw in the pill mills several years ago."

Lenchus also notes the continued federal ban on pot and his suspicions that the measure is just the first step toward recreational marijuana.

Will his $25 make a difference in that campaign? We'll find out when the polls close tonight.


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