North Miami Beach police officer Tom Carney opposes Florida’s ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. So he sent an email explaining how the medical provision would still be a violation of federal law. But in sending the email, Carney himself violated his state’s law.
As the Miami Herald pointed out, non-elected officials like Carney are prohibited from sending emails about electoral politics from their work accounts. Violating the law, much like possessing marijuana, is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Carney sent an email with the subject line the “Truth About Medical Marijuana” before advocates decried the email as illegal politicking. But Carney riled advocates even further when a follow-up email clarifying his intent not to break the law once again contained the advocacy materials.
The email contained talking points from the Florida Police Chiefs Association, several of which conflate legalization of recreational marijuana and medical marijuana.
Polls show medical marijuana has overwhelming public support both nationally and in the states that have voted on ballot measures. In Florida, varying polls have found support at between 66 and 82 percent But Florida’s battle over medical marijuana may be the most contentious, with some projecting that the pot initiative may swing the gubernatorial race toward Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.
The Florida campaign got a major boost when gambling mogul and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson pitched in millions of dollars last month to fund opposition to the initiative. Adelson is backing a committee known as the Drug Free Florida Committee formed by Mel Sembler. That committee has raised a total of $2.7 million so far, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Sembler, who bankrolled opposition to Colorado’s recreational legalization initiative, once oversaw a chain of drug abuse treatment centers for teens, at which allegations have emerged of beatings, rape and psychological abuse. Adelson, meanwhile, recently funded a study in Israel on how medical marijuana can be used to treat multiple sclerosis.
Another initiative called “Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot” — referenced in Carney’s email — is also opposing the initiative with the backing of Florida sheriffs.
A much narrower bill that may have been aimed at diverting support from the medical marijuana initiative flew through the Florida legislature with near-universal support in May. Gov. Rick Scott (R) was convinced to support the bill that grants some low-THC pot in non-smokable form to patients with epilepsy and a select few other conditions. But Scott strongly opposes the November ballot initiative that would give more patients access to marijuana for a much more comprehensive list of medical conditions. In committing to sign the bill, Gov. Rick Scott (R) said “I’m a parent and a grandparent. I want to make sure my children, my grandchildren have access to the health care they want.”