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Florida AG Race: Candidates Debate Medical Marijuana, Another Ad Released

News 13 screen shot
Left to Right: Al Ruechel (Bay News 9), Ybeth Bruzual (News 13) and Adam Smith (Tampa Bay Times) moderate the sole debate between the three candidates for Florida Attorney General: Pam Bondi (R, incumbent), George Sheldon (D) and Bill Wohlsifer (Lib.).

The three candidates in Florida’s Attorney General race debated Monday in what is expected to be the only event with all three for this election cycle. Among the topics was a discussion over an amendment that could legalize medical marijuana in the state.

AG Debate: Constitutional Amendment #2

Calling himself a leader on the issue, Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlsifer spoke first. Drawing comparisons between a new law that legalizes a low strain of marijuana that doesn’t get the user high to help with seizures to the November ballot initiative, Amendment 2,  Wohlsifer says the state will still have to figure out how to deal with a substance that’s still illegal under federal law.

“We’re already at issue with the passage of the Charlotte’s web bill, where we have Schedule I controlled substance for cannabis, yet our Legislature has recognized cannabis as having medicinal value,” said Wohlsifer. “The Attorney General has to fix that. So, the implementation of the passage of Amendment 2 is critical. And, I’m the best one to do that.”

But, Republican incumbent AG Pam Bondi had a different stance on the ballot measure.

“This ballot initiative scares me,” stated Bondi. “Do I want to hurt anyone in a wheelchair? Do I want to hurt anyone with a terminal illness? Of course not! I lost my father to leukemia a year and a half ago. Would I want to hurt anyone who needs a drug? No! But, the unintended consequences are our children could get this. This could fall into the hands of 12-year-olds the way this is written without parental consent, and the doctors who prescribe it would have full immunity from the Civil Bar.”

But, Democrat candidate George Sheldon disagreed, saying “This is no different than a caregiver for a citizen whose doctor prescribes oxycodone, or doctor prescribes  other kind of things. I happen to trust the doctors of this state in terms of how they prescribe this medication.”

All three spoke at a televised debate that aired Monday in Tampa and Orlando, touching on a number of topics including same-sex marriage, Stand Your Ground, and public corruption.

Bondi's 2nd Ad

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While her opponents have yet to release their first television ad, Attorney General Bondi has released her second.

Last month, the Republican incumbent released her first TV ad, highlighting her efforts to combat prescription drug abuse in Florida. Now, her new ad focuses on another of her priorities: human trafficking.

Florida ranks 3rd nationally in calls for help for human trafficking. Where young women and children are enslaved and abused. I knew we needed all hands on deck. Businesses and hospitals to spot it. Our great law enforcement to stop it. And tougher penalties to punish it. We’re taking on Medicaid fraud, pill mills, gangs and more. And I’ll fight to put human trafficking monsters where they belong – behind bars.

Democrat George Sheldon has not yet put out his first ad. Last month, he told reporters he plans to release one closer to the November 4th election. But, a campaign spokeswoman said Monday that "no decision has been made yet on running TV ads in the future."

Meanwhile, Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer has said he doesn’t plan on releasing any TV ads because he doesn’t have much money to do so, but he invites people to look at his youtube channel.

Several polls show Bondi with a comfortable lead over Sheldon and Wohlsifer.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.