Pubdate: Tue, 07 Oct 2014
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2014 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Dan Sweeney
Page: 1A


Coming soon to a TV near you: anti-pot ads. Coming to a parking lot 
near you: a pro-pot bus.

As Election Day draws nearer, the two sides of the medical marijuana 
debate have diverged in how they're getting out the message.

Drug Free Florida, the primary group fighting Amendment 2, will be 
running television ads across the state. People United for Medical 
Marijuana will be driving a bus around the same territory.

The fact Drug Free Florida had about $3 million in September, while 
People United had just a few hundred grand had a lot to do with their choices.

"We hope to continue raising awareness and having a conversation with 
voters," said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of People United. 
"Our basic proposition from the beginning of this has been that the 
more we talk about this issue, the more support we'll have."

Drug Free Florida, backed by an initial $2.5 million from Las Vegas 
casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, recently spent more than $1.7 million 
on a statewide television ad buy.

The latest campaign finance records, which cover the period through 
Sept. 26, show Adelson dropped another $1.5 million into Drug Free 
Florida's bank account on Sept. 25, essentially refilling the money 
exhausted in the ad buy.

"We are very grateful and appreciative of the support of all of our 
donors," said Drug Free Florida spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. "This is a 
worthy cause for the future of Florida."

People United, which raised more money than the anti-medical 
marijuana folks just to get Amendment 2 on the ballot, is down to its 
last $600,000.

Hence the bus tour, which is considerably cheaper than a statewide ad buy.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Amendment 2 bus will hit rallies and 
debates in Hallandale Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Miami and Miami Gardens.

Drug Free Florida isn't landing a bus anywhere anytime soon, but 
Bascom says the campaign has a lot more to it than just TV ads.

"We have been focusing on our own grassroots methods, for example we 
have a strong digital and online effort," she said.

They also have the eighth-richest man in the world backing them. But 
People United has the backing of John Morgan, a Central Florida 
attorney who, while a far cry from Adelson, has sunk $4 million into 
the Amendment 2 campaign as well.

"The $4 million he's put into this campaign is chump change to him. 
He sneezes $4 million," Pollara said of Adelson. "I don't know how 
much John feels $4 million, but he's said all along that he'll do 
what he needs to do to win."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom