Florida’s pro-pot group touts $1 million campaign contribution

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Hours after state Sen. Jack Latvala said he’ll devote most of his $500,000 campaign war chest to fighting Amendment 2, backers of the pot campaign said they raised $1 million from a marijuana advocacy group.

While the contribution doesn’t yet show up on the Florida Division of Elections campaign finance database, it would boost the fundraising by People United for Medical Marijuana from $4.2 million to $5.2 million.

Ben Pollara of People United said the campaign contribution comes from New Approach, a group connected to the late philanthropist Peter Lewis. The former head of Progressive Insurance, who died in 2013, backed cannabis proposals in Washington, Massachusetts and Oregon.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Florida doctors have mixed opinions about medical marijuana

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Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Disappointment for medical pot patients revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign

Florida’s godfather of weed says he doesn’t need to be drunk to drop f-bombs

State senator from St. Petersburg says he’s spending his campaign donations to fight Amendment 2

State Sen. Jack Latvala said he’s spending “the lion’s share” of his campaign war chest to fight Amendment 2, the measure to expand Florida’s state-regulated medical marijuana industry. That includes TV ads such as the one above, airing in Tampa.

“We have no scientific evidence that there’s any medicinal value to marijuana,” Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, said during a news conference Friday hosted by the Vote No on 2 Campaign.

Latvala acknowledged that he’s fighting public opinion. Polls show Amendment 2 is likely to pass Nov. 8.

The veteran lawmaker said he worries that cannabis candies will be available to children, that lawmakers won’t be able to change the cannabis industry once it’s enshrined in the state constitution, and that local communities will be forced to allow dispensaries to operate. While many see marijuana as a low-risk substance, Latvala says it’s a dangerous “gateway drug.”

“I have no doubt this chemical … is going to be demonstrated to be harmful,” Latvala said.

Latvala has raised $513,898.77 for his re-election campaign. Cynics might note that contributors to his 2016 campaign include Anheuser-Busch, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Southern Wine & Spirits and Bigtown Liquors, along with pharma giants Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Merck, Pfizer and Zeneca Services.

Some research indicates that drinkers replace booze with weed when marijuana is more readily available, while pot proponents say Big Pharma fears cannabis as a replacement for other, less effective drugs.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Florida doctors have mixed opinions about medical marijuana

Advocates want medical marijuana in Florida, but not like California

Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Disappointment for medical pot patients revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign

Florida’s godfather of weed says he doesn’t need to be drunk to drop f-bombs

No parking? Delray Beach real estate company launches free shuttle

corcoran

Here’s a creative way to market real estate: Starting Saturday, the Corcoran Group’s office in Delray Beach will provide free shuttle service to folks frustrated by the lack of parking near the beach and Atlantic Avenue.

Corcoran says the shuttle can hold five passengers and will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. You can order a ride from Downtowner.

The shuttle is outfitted with iPads showing videos and information about Corcoran.

Florida’s medical marijuana measure gains momentum, poll shows

 

Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post
Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post

Despite opposition from drug warriors, doctors, sheriffs and Catholic bishops, Amendment 2 is gaining support, according to a poll released Wednesday by Saint Leo University.

It shows 68.8 percent support for Amendment 2 in September, up from 67.8 percent in August and 65.1 percent in June. The amendment needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.

“It appears as though medical marijuana supporters will get the victory they were denied by voters in 2014,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “The higher the turnout among young voters, the better the chance that this amendment passes.”

RELATED COVERAGE

In Florida’s cannabis cash race, pro-weed group has the edge for now

Advocates want medical marijuana in Florida, but not like California

Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Disappointment for medical pot patients who revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign

Florida’s godfather of weed says he doesn’t need to be drunk to drop f-bombs

FAU, Sancilio address worker shortage with graduate course

Sancilio

The growth of Palm Beach County’s biotech sector has been hampered in part by a lack of workers skilled in the specialized sector.

Here’s one solution: Scientists from Riviera Beach-based Sancilio & Co. are teaching a graduate course, “Biological Sciences 4930: Drug Development and Regulation,” on Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus this semester.

“With 28 current job openings, the company typically has to search outside the state to fill these positions,” FAU said Thursday in a news release. “Students who participate in the course attend lectures by Sancilio & Co. scientists and also receive hands-on laboratory experience learning how to prepare and analyze pharmaceutical solutions. The course also provides them with industry knowledge and background on FDA regulations.”

To take the course, FAU students must have a background in biology and chemistry. Sancilio is a maker of fish-oil pills.

South Florida home prices rising, still far below 2006 peak

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

South Florida home prices are rebounding, but they remain well below their 2006 peak, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.

As of July, values in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are up 7 percent over the past year.

The region’s prices remain 24 percent below their May 2006 peak. Nationally, however, values are almost back to their peak. U.S. home prices are just 2 percent below their 2007 acme.

Who’s giving to Florida’s pro-pot campaign? Ganjapreneurs, doctors and a former GOP lawmaker

 

Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post
Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post

Weed is more popular among Florida voters than Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio or Patrick Murphy, according to a new poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The poll found 73 percent support for Amendment 2. None of the candidates for president or U.S. Senate cracked 50 percent.

Meanwhile, People United for Medical Marijuana has raised $4 million for its push to legalize pot for people with “debilitating” medical conditions. Much of that comes from personal injury attorney John Morgan, but who else is writing checks? A sampling:

Ganjapreneurs: Cole Berger of Jupiter runs High Hopes Gourmet, which aims to be “the leading manufacturer of cannabis-infused foods in Florida.” He has contributed $12,070. Patrick Vo of Fort Lauderdale runs BiotrackTHC, a maker of software for the cannabis industry. He contributed $1,400. Jeffrey Zucker, a cannabis consultant from Chicago, gave $1,000.

Physicians and pharmacists: The official line among doctors is that marijuana doesn’t pass muster as medicine, but a surprising number of physicians and pharmacists have written checks to the Amendment 2 campaign. Dr. John Merey of West Palm Beach contributed $1,000. Dr. Mitchell Davis of Jupiter gave $500. Dr. Bernard Cantor of Weston contributed $750. Dr. Stephen Blythe, an osteopath from Melbourne, gave $200. Dr. Kathryn Villano of Miami wrote checks totaling $907. Walter Day Jr., a pharmacist in Melbourne, gave $470. Dr. Hal Jeffrey Levine, a plastic surgeon in Kissimmee, contributed $1,280. All have legit licenses and clean disciplinary histories, according to the state Department of Health.

A former Republican lawmakerPaula B. Dockery of Lakeland, a longtime state legislator who’s now a newspaper columnist, gave $200. (However, the Stephen D. Crisafulli of Brevard County who gave $75 to the Amendment 2 campaign is not the Stephen D. Crisafulli of Brevard County who’s Speaker of the Florida House. The pro-pot Crisafulli is a 62-year-old Democrat who lives in West Melbourne. The House Speaker is a 45-year-old Republican who lives in Merritt Island.)

RELATED COVERAGE

In Florida’s cannabis cash race, pro-weed group has the edge for now

Advocates want medical marijuana in Florida, but not like California

Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Disappointment for medical pot patients revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign

Florida’s godfather of weed says he doesn’t need to be drunk to drop f-bombs

See how much West Palm Beach apartments sold for

money-house-nt

The Jefferson Palm Beach apartment complex in West Palm Beach traded hands in June for $56 million, or $198,936 a unit, according to county property records.

The new owners are Dedicated West Palm Beach LP and GP Florida LLC.

The address of Dedicated West Palm Beach is listed as the address of Brass Enterprises, based in Toronto, Canada. Brass is a real estate investor in multifamily housing in both the U.S. and Canada.

The newly built rental community was completed a year ago. It consists of 281 units. Monthly rents now range from $1,547 for a one-bedroom unit to $2,041 to a three-bedroom unit.

The Jefferson Apartments are at 300 Courtney Lakes Circle, near the Palm Beach Outlets, off of Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.

The Jefferson’s sales price was a nice premium for the apartment’s developer, JAG-Star, an affiliate of Starwood Capital of Greenwich, Ct. JAG-Star bought the 11-acre parcel of land in 2012 for $4 million.

 

 

Palm Beach County agent: I’ll sell your home for 1.5 percent

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Chris Calia, an agent at House Pro Realty Group in suburban Lake Worth, says he’s making sellers an offer they find hard to refuse: He charges a commission of only 1.5 percent.

If the buyer is represented by an agent, Calia urges the seller to pay that Realtor 2.5 percent, bringing the total fee to 4 percent. But if the buyer doesn’t have an agent, Calia says, he charges the seller only 1.5 percent.

He credits the discounted commission for what he calls “a huge increase” in his business. The marketing approach is just another example of how real estate agents are responding to intensifying pressure on commissions.

“It’s hard to compete with the Internet, and real estate is no exception,” Calia says. “To pay 6 percent, in my opinion, is absurd. Maybe in 1986, the 6 percent was reasonable. But the Internet made it quicker, easier and more efficient to do business.”

The traditional commission long was 6 percent, but that benchmark has eroded in recent years. Realogy Corp., the nation’s largest brokerage, says commissions have been hovering in the 5 percent range for years. In another measure, REAL Trends, a consulting and research firm in Denver, says the average commission nationwide was 5.18 percent in 2015.

Landlord to medical firm Rennova: You owe $1.9 million in rent

scott-medytox

Already facing a delisting from the stock marketRennova Health has a new woe: Its landlord wants $1.94 million in unpaid rent.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Palm Beach County, property owner Reflect Co. LLC says Medytox Solutions, as Rennova was known until recently, is in default of its lease after missing an August rent payment on its headquarters at 400 Australian Ave. in West Palm Beach.

UPDATE: According to its lease, Rennova pays rent of $20,598.88 a month or $247,186.50 a year for its 5,637-square-foot headquarters. The landlord is seeking “accelerated rent” based on the four-plus years of rent remaining on Rennova’s lease.

Rennova (NASDAQ: RNVA), a medical testing firm, has been hemorrhaging money. Its sales plunged from $23 million in the first half of 2015 to $4.9 million in the first half of 2016, and its net loss widened from $3.2 million in the first half of 2015 to $10.1 million in the first half of 2016.

Rennova also is trying to ward off a delisting of its shares. The Nasdaq has given the it until March 13 to boost its share price above $1. Rennova shares languished at 23 cents Thursday.