George Sheldon, Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general, has released a radio ad endorsing the medical marijuana amendment on the Florida ballot in November, while former Gov. Jeb Bush has joined a political group opposing it.
“Only one candidate for attorney general wants the government off our backs and out of our most personal decisions, George Sheldon,” says the ad. “George Sheldon fully supports legalizing medical marijuana ... politicians should not be involved in a decision best left to a doctor and a patient.”
In the ad, Sheldon also says he’s pro-choice on abortion and in favor of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi “has failed us,” the ad says. “She opposes medical marijuana, opposes a woman’s right to choose and opposes marriage equality. She wants politicians making our private decisions for us.”
Sheldon’s ad is unusual in that political candidates normally avoid taking sides in any race but their own, to avoid alienating voters on the other side.
Several polls have suggested he may have little to lose, however -- a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Florida voter favoring the idea, though not necessarily the amendment, by 88-10 percent.
But Sheldon media consultant Dane Strother said strategy wasn’t part of the decision to run the ad.
“We didn’t poll the question – we talked to George Sheldon, he told us what he believed, and that’s what we went with,” he said. “The decision on any medication should be between a doctor and a patient without a politician in the room.”
But, he added, “It never hurts to the on the side of a popular issue.”
Bush, meanwhile, has joined Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot, an advocacy group that opposes the amendment.
The organization says it’s an educational group rather than a political group, but the news release announcing Bush’s participation explicitly criticizes Amendment 2, the medical marijuana amendment.
“I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November,” the news release quotes Bush as saying.
He says allowing “large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes,” runs counter to efforts to “make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire.”
Opponents of Amendment 2 say it will allow unrestricted use of marijuana by almost anyone. Proponents say the amendment is narrowly tailored to apply only to those with debilitating diseases, and that the state Legislature and Department of Health would forumlate rules for its implementation.