1. Florida Politics

Medical marijuana campaign coffers are growing fast

Published Apr. 12, 2013

Personal injury mogul John Morgan, who announced last month that he would lead Florida's medical marijuana initiative, also pumped $100,000 into the cause, according to campaign finance records filed with the state this week.

The donation went to a political committee, now headed by Morgan, that wants to get a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot that would legalize pot use for medical purposes.

The committee is listed by the state as People United for Medical Marijuana, though it recently rebranded its web site and literature to "United for Care" to distance itself from the PUFMM acronym.

In its first four years of existence, the committee pulled in $30,000 with small individual donations. But collections jumped to $190,000 during the first quarter of 2013 with Morgan's cash infusion.

Another large donor was Coral Gables philanthropist Barbara Stiefel, who chipped in $50,000. Stiefel's family fortune traces back to the 1840s, with another non-traditional way of treating ailments — medicinal soap.

Stiefel Laboratories grew into one of the world's largest providers of dermatological products and sold out to GlaxoSmithKline in 2009 for $2.9 billion.

Barbara Stiefel has contributed to several Democratic campaigns including more than $1 million to President Obama's super PAC in 2012.

People United reported $24,000 in expenditures for the first quarter, mainly $20,000 to sign up National Voter Outreach, a Nevada company that specializes in citizen petition drives.

St. Petersburg's Drug Free America Foundation plans to operate a separate political committee to collection donations and fight the medical marijuana initiative, executive director Calvina Fox said last week. But that committee is not yet up and running.