Monday, August 13, 2018

Florida has spent nearly $2 million in legal bills over medical marijuana

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 1:25 PM

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Almost two years after voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana, the fight for weed in the Sunshine State is only just beginning.

The same could be said for its price tag: According to contracts posted on Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis' Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System, or FACTS, at least $1.9 million approved by the Department of Health has gone to two law firms – Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli and Shutts & Bowen.

That's what marijuana-related court appeals will get you, folks. But it makes sense considering Gov. Rick Scott's track record: Under Scott "and other top Florida Republicans," according to a report from the Associated Press last year, Florida has "quietly spent more than $237 million on private lawyers to advance and defend their agendas."

The AP goes on to say that figure doesn't include the nearly $16 million "Florida taxpayers have been forced to reimburse [for] opponents' private attorney fees" when the state, you know, loses.



The website Florida Politics further breaks down the contracts here.

More than 70 percent of state voters approved a constitutional amendment for medical marijuana in 2016. But even with an overwhelming majority of voters voting in favor, lawmakers have fought tooth and nail to try to limit the intent of the amendment – the most recent case took place on Aug. 2, when a circuit judge said that lawmakers were in the wrong by trying to limit the number, as well as the organizational structure, of dispensaries.

Considering the number of appeals state Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed, that's just the tip of the iceberg of cases of Florida lawmakers trying to undercut the amendment.

Don't expect taxpayers to get a break any time soon. Orlando attorney John Morgan, who essentially bankrolled the 2016 medical marijuana amendment, has only just begun his tireless crusade to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida in 2020 – and, if his campaign over the past several months have been any indication, it may gain traction.

Just think about what the future may hold, dear marijuana-smoking readers – and think about how much weed almost $2 million could've bought.

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